Haddon Pantel, MD, is a fellowship trained colorectal surgeon who treats benign, inflammatory, and cancerous diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, including such problems as diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disease. He earned his medical degree from the University of Vermont followed by a General Surgery Residency at Lahey Clinic, and he subsequently completed fellowship training in Colon and Rectal Surgery at the Lahey Clinic as well.
Many of his patients have symptoms and problems that they are uncomfortable talking about. “We try to give all this a sense of normalcy,” he says. “It is normal for us, because it's all we see.” Dr. Pantel is passionate about colorectal surgery because it is an area of medicine where he is able to help a lot of people. The diseases are common and usually treatable when they are diagnosed early, Dr. Pantel says. “We know the patient’s history, and we can provide a lifetime of care.”
He recommends people talk to their doctor right away if they notice symptoms such as blood in the stool—whether it is bright red blood or dark blood and tarry stools—as it could be a sign of colorectal cancer. It’s also important to follow screening recommendations, Dr. Pantel says. The American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons now recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start screening at age 45. This can be done with an at-home test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool or a visual exam such as a colonoscopy. Dr. Pantel points out that a colonoscopy is not only a screening tool, but also a way for doctors to remove any polyps that could become invasive cancers. “Colonoscopies are akin to wearing your seatbelt. Granted, it's a little bit more involved than just reaching over and buckling it every time you get in the car. But, it’s a preventive measure and an effective one,” he says.