For many, January is a time for new beginnings and health-focused resolutions. In this light, the detection and removal of advanced adenomas during a screening colonoscopy can play a pivotal role in the prevention of colon cancer.
What Are Advanced Adenomas?
Advanced adenomas (AAs) are precancerous polyps with specific features that indicate a higher risk of progression to colorectal cancer (CRC). These features include a size of 10mm (about 0.39 in) or more, a villous or tubulovillous architecture, or high-grade dysplasia.
While not all adenomas will become cancerous, the risk increases with the size and severity of dysplasia. Studies suggest that about 5-10% of advanced adenomas may progress to colorectal cancer within a decade if left untreated. 
With 32% of US adults overdue for CRC screening, that progression rate of AAs to cancer is concerning.
The Significance of Early Detection and Removal of AAs
Routine screening colonoscopies are the gold standard for not only detecting these advanced adenomas but also for removing them before they can progress to cancer. During a colonoscopy, removing these polyps, known as a polypectomy, can reduce colon cancer. In fact, the National Polyp Study found that the removal of adenomatous polyps can decrease the incidence of colorectal cancer by up to 90%. 
How Screening Improves Survival Rates
The benefits of identifying and removing advanced adenomas are clear. By catching these lesions early, we can prevent most colorectal cancers from developing. This is crucial, considering that the survival rate for colon cancer drops dramatically as the disease advances. For localized colon cancer, the five-year survival rate is over 90%, but for late-stage disease it falls to about 14%. 
Yet, despite the clear benefits of routine CRC screening, compliance rates remain suboptimal. Many individuals are not up to date with their recommended screenings, which should begin at age 45 for average-risk adults. Healthcare professionals have, for years, emphasized patient education on the importance of these screenings and strive to make them accessible and routine.
Technology and the Fight Against Colon Cancer
AI-enabled targeting and analytics can aid in identifying patients who are overdue for CRC screening and have higher apparent risk of lower GI disorders, thereby catching more advanced adenomas before they progress. At Lucem Health, we are committed to leveraging technology to enhance early detection and prevention strategies, ensuring that more individuals can benefit from the life-saving potential of routine screenings.
As we embrace the new year, many reaffirm their commitment to proactive health measures. Through risk stratification that augments standard outreach, we have the power to detect and disrupt the progression of colon cancer, saving lives and fostering healthier communities. Here’s to a year of prevention, early detection, and the promise of better health for all.