A Two-Hour Outpatient Screening Can Be Your Most Valuable Investment
Before 45 yr old Moshe W. underwent a colonoscopy, he was hesitant. With his busy schedule, when would he find the time? Chaim Fleischer of Makdim assured him the screening would take under two hours and reminded Moshe of the potentially life-saving outcomes. All Moshe needed to do was show up for the test, and Fleischer would take care of the logistics.
Moshe’s colonoscopy yielded concerning results, but thanks to early diagnosis and treatment, Moshe reduced the risk of developing colon cancer. With a simple non-surgical procedure, multiple pre-cancerous polyps were removed, and Moshe is now in the clear.
“Colon cancer is one of the main cancers in society, but luckily colon cancer is almost always preventable,” says Dr. Aaron Tokayer, a gastroenterologist at Maimonides Medical Center. “That’s why we encourage men and women above the age of 45 to begin colonoscopy screening – allowing concerning polyps to be removed before they can turn into cancer.”
Individuals flagged at higher risk for developing colon cancer should take earlier precautions. “People with a family history of colorectal cancer, or have Crohn’s Disease, or Ulcerative Colitis may need to start screening at an earlier age,” says Dr. Mendel Goldfinger, assistant professor of oncology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “They should consult their doctor about when to start colorectal cancer screening.”
As the founder of Yachad Bobov, an organization providing a wide range of services for anyone experiencing a medical crisis, Patient Advocate at Maimonides Medical Center, and a long-standing Hatzolah member – Chaim Fleischer has witnessed harrowing medical experiences. With the knowledge that many instances of suffering could be avoided with early medical intervention, Fleischer founded Makdim, a health awareness organization. The mission of Makdim is to save lives, one health screening at a time.
Makdim has recently expanded and partnered with the Boro Park Jewish Community Council to help facilitate health screenings for a wider range of community members. Life-saving screenings such as colonoscopies, mammograms, and blood-pressure screenings are available, yet unfortunately underutilized. Makdim’s support team updates individuals who opt in for screening reminders and helps with referrals and appointment scheduling. All that’s necessary is for a patient to show up.
“We understand there are many individuals suffering from preventable diseases such as colon cancer, not because they chose to avoid health screenings – but simply because they were unaware of the need to screen,” says Fleischer. With Fleischer raising awareness of the importance of colonoscopies over the past two years, over a hundred colonoscopies have been arranged, and multiple lives have been saved.
David Geller is one of those individuals. After attending a Bobov health awareness event, with Dr Sherwinter stressing the importance of colonoscopies, David called Makdim to arrange a colonoscopy. Within two days, he was in a doctor’s office and undergoing a colonoscopy. “I walked into the doctor's office, was under anesthesia for twenty minutes, and was out of the office within an hour and fifteen minutes of entry,” says David. “The procedure was painless.”
David’s colonoscopy revealed thirteen polyps, with two dangerously measuring over 10mm in size. Fortunately, David was able to remove the polyps with a non-surgical procedure. “Thanks to early diagnosis, I could easily have the polyps removed and did not have to potentially endure r”l any significant illness,” says David. “I realize I am lucky, I know people that were unaware and undiagnosed and, unfortunately, are suffering tremendously today.”
Dr. Tokayer explains that while removing polyps may sound scary, it is painless. “Over 50% of colonoscopies will reveal concerning polyps which can be removed while the colonoscopy is performed. The good news is that it is non-invasive and a comfortable procedure.
Zishe Lowy has seen the devastating pain of undiagnosed colon cancer in his role as director of patient services at Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society. The organization has assisted 203 colorectal cancer patients in 2022 alone, 104 male and 99 female. The most significant percentage of colorectal cancer patients were aged 60+, emphasizing the need to screen early. “Preventative colonoscopy screening can spare heartache,” says Lowy. “It can be the difference from needing nothing (no painful medical intervention) to nothing can help r”l.”
There is still the greatest likelihood for positive outcomes when colon cancer is detected early. “Colonoscopy screening also often finds early-stage cancers that can be removed before they can spread and become incurable,” says Dr. Goldfinger. Lowy has encountered asymptomatic patients diagnosed with stage one or two colon cancers, and “thanks to a screening colonoscopy were able to be cured with minimal treatment.”
With greater colonoscopy awareness in the Boro Park community, doctors are optimistic. “I do not doubt that the colonoscopy screening campaign by Makdim will save lives and prevent some people from needing therapies such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy,” says Dr. Goldfinger.
“Colon cancer should be unheard of or rare in our community,” asserts Dr. Tokayer. By choosing to stay up to date with colonoscopy screenings, this vision can become a reality. Subscribe today to receive health screening reminders from Makdim – your health is in your hands.
Q: How common is colon cancer?
A: The American Cancer Society estimates there to be 106,180 new cases of colon cancer and 44,850 new cases of rectal cancer in 2022. The organization also calculates the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer to be: about 1 in 23 (4.3%) for men and 1 in 25 (4.0%) for women.
Q: How treatable is colon cancer?
A: Colon cancer has a high treatment success rate when caught in the early stages. 91% of stage 1 cases are successfully treated according to The American Cancer Society, but can only be detected with screening – as patients are most often asymptomatic at this stage. However, at later stages mortality rates climb, with colorectal cancer being the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women.
Q: Who should get a colonoscopy?
A: The CDC recommends that men and women between the age of 45-70 get colonoscopies. Individuals with a family history of colon cancer and large adenomatous polyps should get screened earlier.
Q: How often do colonoscopies need to be scheduled?
A: This is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on your family’s history of colon cancer and previous colonoscopy findings. For individuals without additional risk factors, colonoscopies are recommended every 10 years.
Q: How do you prepare for a colonoscopy?
A: Doctors generally recommend a clear liquid diet and laxatives be taken on the day before the colonoscopy.
Q: How long will the colonoscopy take?
A: Patients are usually under general anesthesia for approximately twenty minutes during the screening, and in and out of the doctor’s office within an hour and a half.
Q: What does recovery look like?
A: Recovery generally is based on how quickly an individual recovers from anesthesia.
Makdim was founded to save lives, one health screening at a time. Sign up via phone 718-925-2943 or
online at Makdim.org to stay updated when it’s time for you to screen. Makdim will additionally provide referrals and help with scheduling upon request.