Noel Fajardo, a Las Vegas-based gastroenterologist, has visited the Philippines recently to raise awareness on colon cancer and its early prevention.
Fajardo, a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1997, says early detection and prevention of colon cancer can save lives.
Fajardo finished his residency and chief residency at Mount Sinai School of Medicine Affiliate in New York.
After his residency, he specialized in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, where he also holds an advanced Fellowship Degree in Gastrointestinal Motility.
He was also a former clinical instructor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
Fajardo has been a leading advocate for the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis among the Asian-American and Pacific Island communities throughout the United States.
He has also promoted and organized multiple large-scale regional screening and benefit events.
Fajardo says that at age 50, there is a risk of colon cancer which can be detected by colonoscopy.
“The idea is prevention. The growing cancer prevention drastically reduces the rates of colon cancer by 60 to 90 percent…It’s just appropriate that we bring the colon cancer awareness here in the Philippines,” he says.
He says colon cancer, based on studies, is related to genetics and is more prevalent among women. He cites the case of late president Corazon Aquino, who died of colon cancer.
“If you family is at risk of colon cancer, you get colonoscopy screening 10 years before age 50,” Fajardo says.
He says colonoscopy is not a covered service in the Philippines. He says screening is “the first step to being healthy.”
“My advocacy is to tell people that there is a test that can save lives,” Fajardo says.
He says colonoscopy costs from P3,000 to as high as P50,000, depending on where the procedure is done.
The government, he says, plays an important role in helping bring down the cost to ensure that Filipinos have a chance at battling colon cancer.
“Colon is one of the most curable cancers. It’s not a death sentence. It’s getting the diagnosis and getting the treatment early,” Fajardo says.
He says the government has already started on certain preventive medicine, “and it’s just a matter of expanding the scope.”
“Preventive medicine saves more than dealing with the disease itself,” he says.
Fajardo opened the first independent endoscopy center in Clark County in 2008.
Las Vegas made the national news for a hepatitis outbreak in 2008 caused by the unsafe and unhygienic actions of a local endoscopy center.
Despite the permanent closure of the practice,with its owner now serving a life sentence, independent endoscopy centers continue to endure the stigma of Las Vegas being unsafe.
But in the face of public fear with new, more stringent, regulations, Fajardo chose to expand his successful gastroenterology practice and include an endoscopy center.
Fajardo wants to assure all southern Nevadans and his own patients they will be safe in a facility that surpasses the topmost standards.
While the regulatory compliance process is long and difficult, Fajardo says Las Vegas Endoscopy is in complete compliance with every regulation.
The Las Vegas Gastroenterology also introduces advanced technology to the community. LVE is the first and the only Endoscopy Center in Las Vegas to offer the endochoice fuse – full spectrum endoscopy.
The innovative scope provides a panoramic 330-degree field of view, compared to the 170-degree field of a traditional endoscope.
The endochoice fuse has been shown to be 69-percent more effective at detecting adenomas (benign tumors in epithelial tissue) than a traditional endoscope.
Fajardo’s research interests include disorders of the bowel associated with spinal cord injury and experimental treatment of other neuropathic gastrointestinal disorders. The results of his research have been presented at national and international meetings.