Importance of Health Screenings at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital
Dr. Marco Chavarria, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital

Mission and Highlands-Cashiers Hospital work hard to make their quality health services more accessible to residents of Western North Carolina.    

Their latest contribution: expanding monthly colorectal screenings.  General surgeon Dr. Marco Chavarria and his team from Transylvania Regional Hospital will be conducting colonoscopies and endoscopies two or more days per month depending upon the season.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  While many of us respond to colonoscopies with giggles or trepidation, Dr. Chavarria reminds us that, excluding skin cancers, the American Cancer Society ranks colorectal cancers Number Three as the most commonly diagnosed cancer.  That means one in 22 men and one in 24 women will develop it during their lifetime. 

“The good news is these statistics can be drastically reduced if patients will start colorectal screenings at age 50,” Dr. Chavarria says.  He adds that if there is a history of colorectal problems in your immediate family, a more comprehensive plan should be discussed with your physician or with him.

Perhaps the reason Dr. Chavarria has such an easy-going manner is that he began his medical practice later in life. For 15 years he was an Atlanta-area firefighter/paramedic. Emergency hands-on experience not only inspired him to become a doctor, but it gave him a leg up on his peers.  Being in the trenches gave him confidence he could handle just about anything that came along. 

And it’s comforting to have a laid-back doctor who listens well and puts you at ease, particularly if the screening prep is a bit challenging. 

He reminds us, “Think of mammograms, X-rays, colonoscopies or other routine screenings as important and matter of fact as regular car maintenance. In the case of a colonoscopy, you’d only have to change your oil once every eight to 10 years.”