Colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers according to oncologists.
Doctors are unanimous when it comes to early detection by scheduling and following through with colonoscopies.
“My biggest message to people is get in and get a colonoscopy,” Dr. Scott Gering from Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs said. “The first question I ask my patients is, ‘when was your last colonoscopy’?”
According to Dr. Gering, he is always surprised at the number of 60, 70 and 80-year-olds that come in to see him who haven’t had a colonoscopy given the fact that there is so much information out there.
“This type of cancer is one of the leading causes of death in America,” Dr. Gering said. “It is one of the only cancers that people can truly prevent.”
He said the procedure is relatively simple, painless and is similar to a mammogram screening in terms of health maintenance.
“A colonoscopy gives us the opportunity to remove any pre-cancerous polyps,” he explained.
One cancer survivor kept putting her colonoscopy off until she started experiencing lower back pain and heavy bleeding.
“I just ignored it and ignored it and kept telling myself I’d get to it,” Gail Henderson of Chino Hills said. “I was in denial.”
Henderson said in hindsight her symptoms were blaring and the cancer could have been detected and dealt with had she had a colonoscopy much earlier.
“Being a nurse, I wasn’t surprised when they told me I had cancer but when they told me I had stage three cancer, it blew my socks off,” Henderson explained.
Henderson’s cancer removal surgery was successful although the 52 weeks of chemotherapy proved difficult.
“The recovery was really tough,” she said. “I had to go get chemo treatments every Wednesday for a year and it was hard.”
Doctor Gering said warning signs of colon cancer are changes in bowels, unexplained weight loss and blood in the stools.
“I tell people to eat a diet high in fiber and to get in for their colonoscopy,” Dr. Gering added. “It’s a one day thing that can save your life.”
He recommends getting your first colonoscopy at age 50 unless cancer runs in your family.
To learn more, visit www.cancer.org or call 800-227-2345.
Stephanie D. Schulte is a writer/photographer for SWRNN. She can be reached at email@example.com.