Dr. Sri Pothamsetty is an Orlando gastroenterologist who received his medical degree from Osmania Medical College NTR UHS and his residency and fellowship training in Gastroenterology at John H. Stroger Hospital in Chicago. He is Board-Certified and a member of the American College of Gastroenterology as well as the American Gastroenterological Association. He has been in practice for more than 15 years.
His passion for safe, comfortable and high-quality endoscopy led to the establishment of the endoscopy center at The Millenia Surgery Center, where he serves as the medical director. He has also been appointed as assistant professor at UCF College of Medicine.
Dr. Pothamsetty is affiliated with both Florida Hospital and Orlando Health systems.
In 2015, he was awarded the Outstanding Physician Award by Surgery Partners. He is a member of the speaker bureaus for AstraZeneca, Inc. and Allergan Pharmaceuticals, and is a principal investigator for Universal Clinical Research and Technology, Inc., as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the Orange County Medical Society.
Causes close to his heart include working with CAPI to raise funding for the OneOrlando Fund to beneﬁt victims of the Pulse tragedy. His practice supports multiple charities including A Gift for Teaching (providing school supplies for children in Orlando), Community Based Care of Central Florida (beneﬁting foster care children in Orlando), Aman Vedika (sponsor education for needy children in India) and Sankara Eye Foundation (free eye surgery for those unable to afford it).
In our "In Other Words" forum this month, Pothamsetty speaks to the importance of encouraging patients, friends and family members to participate in colorectal screening.
In Other Words...Sri Pothamsetty, MD
Make a Difference: Prevent Colorectal Cancer
March has again been designated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This annual reminder remains important. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is around 1 in 20. Nearly 150,000 cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2018. Over 50,000 deaths from colorectal cancer are expected to occur this year. Half of these deaths could be prevented by screening. Mortality rates from colorectal cancer have declined during the past two decades, reflecting declining incidence rates and improvements in early detection and treatment.
It has been well established that most colorectal cancers and deaths from colorectal cancers can be prevented through screening. Screening is the process by which neoplastic and pre-neoplastic lesions (adenomatous polyps) are detected, and then removed, in asymptomatic persons. Colonoscopy remains the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening.
Colorectal cancer has several features that make it ideal for screening. First, it is both a common and serious (fatal if not detected early) condition. Second, it arises from a known precursor lesion, an adenomatous polyp, that is easily identifiable and removable at colonoscopy. Third, screening and prevention tests, including colonoscopy are easily available.
Unfortunately, current screening rates are not adequate to prevent this potentially devastating cancer. Just over 50 percent of those eligible have received colorectal cancer screening. Even physicians and their families are not uniformly screened. Multiple barriers still exist that prevent everyone from getting a screening test that can potentially save their life.
A very important barrier has traditionally been (horror of horrors!) the bowel prep!!! Fortunately, since we introduced low-volume preps such as Suprep in our practice, this has become less of a problem. Cultural taboos still persist, but as public acceptance has become widespread over the years, this is not much of an issue anymore. Cost of the colonoscopy, which has been the biggest impediment over the years, has become much less of a problem since Medicare and most insurers have started covering this procedure at little or no out-of-pocket cost to the patient. Especially when done in a surgery center, as we do with most of our patients, the costs to patients are minimal, if any. Discomfort and pain associated with colonoscopy has become a thing of the past with widespread use of Monitored Anesthesia Care, which we provide to every one of our patients.
On a national and local level, multiple efforts are underway to expand colorectal cancer screening. The American College of Gastroenterology, the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable and numerous other organizations are spearheading multiple programs to this end. Television programs, radio spots, celebrity endorsements, print articles and local lectures contribute to expanded screening.
However, increasing colorectal cancer awareness by itself is not going to make up the screening gap. Physician encouragement of screening must become a daily component of our patient care. A recent CDC report revealed that the main reason individuals failed to get screened for colorectal cancer is that their doctors did not tell them they should get a test. We need to ask the patient, what is it that will make him or her take the next step and get scheduled for a screening test. Of course, we all know that telling a patient to get a colonoscopy scheduled is not going to elicit smiles!
We must lead by example and ensure that each of us, as well as our family members get age-appropriate screening. Recommendation and example of a trusted physician can be powerful motivators for our patients to get screened. We should not let up on our efforts, until screening becomes universal. Doctors are on the front lines of this battle and are crucial to raising screening rates.