Norwalk Hospital -- a leader in advanced gastroenterology services -- is sponsoring a program on "The Prevention and Treatment of Colon Cancer" on Tuesday, March 16, at 7 p.m., in the Richard S. Perkin Auditorium of the hospital.

Dr. Seth A. Gross, a gastroenterologist and director of advanced endoscopy at Norwalk Hospital, will be the featured speaker for this wellness program, being presented in March in observance of Colorectal Awareness Month.

Colorectal cancer, excluding skin cancer, is the third most common cause of cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society, which also states "the overall lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 19." Colorectal cancer, which affects men and women almost equally, often has no symptoms when it is first developing, and can only be caught early through regular screening. That is why it is so important for people to be screened.

The reason colon cancer can be prevented is because most cancer in the colon begin as polyps. A colonoscopy is an examination that helps the doctor see inside the colon. Although common and usually benign, some polyps may develop into cancer. During a routine colonoscopy, currently considered to be the most accurate test for the detection of polyps or colon cancer, polyps can be removed so that they never get the chance to develop into cancer. During his talk, Gross will explain what a colonoscopy is, what a patient should expect, how to prepare for a colonoscopy and why this screening modality is so important.

He will also answer the most frequently asked questions about the colonoscopy procedure, as well as answer questions from the participants attending this program.

Gross, and his gastroenterologist associates at Norwalk Hospital, are the first physicians in State of Connecticut to study an innovative new technology called "Third Eye Retrocscope" to improve detection of colon polyps and cancer. He will discuss this new state-of-the-art procedure as well during his presentation.

"A colonoscopy is recommended for people age 50 and over and is currently regarded as the best screening tool for colon cancer," said Gross, who is participating in educational programs during Colorectal Awareness Month as a community service to promote the prevention and early detection of colon cancer.

Gross, who specializes in the treatment of gastrointestinal malignancies, also has advanced training in endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), which combines endoscopy with ultrasound to obtain images of the digestive tract and surrounding tissues and organs. EUS is useful in the staging of cancers of the esophagus, rectum, stomach, lung and pancreas as well as detecting bile duct stones. It is also utilized for evaluating chronic pancreatitis, cysts of the pancreas, incontinence and "submucosal" tumors, which are lesions within the intestinal wall. Gross also performs double balloon enteroscopy, which allows for complete evaluation of the small intestine. He also treats Barrett's esophagus and Norwalk Hospital in the only center offering three different therapies, including radiofrequency ablation (Barrx) and cryotherapy.

Recently, Gross, along with Norwalk Hospital pulmonologist Dr. Stephen Winter, were the first physicians in the state to use a new innovative multidisciplinary approach for lung cancer staging. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and the stage of the disease determines the most effective type of medical or surgical treatment. Through Endobronchial Ultrasound, combined with Endoscopic Ultrasound both a pulmonologist and a gastroenterologist are able to use advanced technology to sample lymph nodes throughout the chest cavity to assess the stage of lung cancer for the most appropriate therapy.

Prior to his fellowship training, Gross completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at North Shore University Hospital, New York University School of Medicine.

He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for his accomplishments in the field of gastroenterology.

He holds memberships in the American College of Gastroenterology, American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, American Gastroenterology Association and the American Medical Association.

He has authored numerous articles published in prestigious medical journals and completed a book chapter, Photodynamic Therapy in the Esophagus for "Advances in Photodynamic Therapy: Basic, Translational and Clinical."