Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but Dr. Brian Sadowski said it doesn’t have to be that way.
“Colon cancer is a very common cancer in both men and women, and thankfully is generally slow growing,” he said. “The good news is that because it is slow growing, it is mostly preventable with screening tests such as a colonoscopy.”
As Anderson’s first and only colon and rectal surgeon, Dr. Sadowski is with AnMed Health Piedmont Surgical Associates and expands the breadth of treatments available to AnMed Health patients for colon, rectal and anal conditions.
He offers screening, diagnostic and therapeutic colonoscopy. Dr. Sadowski also treats colon, rectal and anal cancer; inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; diverticular disease; and anal problems such as hemorrhoids, fistulas and fissures.
Because of his specialized training, Dr. Sadowski can address the more challenging and complex colorectal cases, including the surgical management of complex Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
He performs some procedures not previously offered in Anderson, meaning AnMed Health patients will not have to travel to receive treatment. That includes an operation for ulcerative colitis that removes the colon but still allows people to have bowel function without a permanent ostomy, as well as operations for rectal prolapse and fecal incontinence.
“I fill gaps in a couple of areas,” he said.
Screening for colorectal cancer should start at the age 50, according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention that develops recommendations for clinical preventative services. About 90 percent of new cases of colorectal cancer occur in people 50 or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the American Cancer Society began recommending screenings at age 45 for those at average risk in 2018 because of an increasing number of cases of colorectal cancer in younger adults.
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, and there will be nearly 105,000 new cases of colon cancer and more than 43,000 new cases of rectal cancer diagnosed this year.
Colorectal cancer has a 90 percent survival rate if discovered before it spreads outside the colon or rectum, Dr. Sadowski said. During a colonoscopy, a doctor looks for signs of cancer and for abnormal growths, called polyps.
“Colonoscopy is the gold standard,” Dr. Sadowski said. “The benefit is that it is both diagnostic and therapeutic, meaning we can both find the polyps and remove then at the same time, all in one procedure.”
“We’re looking for pre-cancerous lesions or polyps. When we take them out, we’re preventing them from getting larger and theoretically developing into cancers. So, from that standpoint, colorectal cancer is almost completely preventable,” Dr. Sadowski said.
If a patient waits for symptoms – bleeding, pain, or changes in bowel habits – the cancers are usually more advanced and are often more difficult to treat, Sadowski said.
“The best time to be looking for these things is before people have symptoms,” he said.
Many people who delay having colonoscopies do so because they are afraid of finding something or because they dread the physical prep work necessary to take the test.
“There have been a lot of improvements from the patient experience standpoint,” he said.
Dr. Sadowski took a circuitous route to Anderson.
He grew up in the Midwest and graduated from the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. He completed his general surgery residency at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas, and his colon and rectal surgery residency at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
He practiced for six years in Greenville before moving back to Omaha, where he was in private practice and held teaching positions with Creighton University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He played an integral role in his practice’s colon and rectal surgery training program.
After two years in Omaha, Dr. Sadowski and his family moved back to the Upstate.
Dr. Sadowski, whose parents worked as a car dealer and a dental hygienist, said medicine attracted him because he wanted to help people and improve their quality of life.
“That’s especially true in surgery because we do something and the patient is better than when we started, so we’re fixing problems,” he said.
To schedule a colonoscopy, please call 864.224.1111.