Fact: colon cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
Fact: 6 out of 10 deaths could be prevented if all men and women over 50 were screened.
How many of you have scheduled your routine colon screening? How many of you have put it off? Did you know that a colonoscopy on average only takes 20 minutes and can literally save your life? I think a large majority of us have been guilty of delaying our exam. Our goal today is to show you how important it is to get your colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy is a common and very safe procedure that examines the lining of your lower intestinal tract, called the colon or large intestine. On average the procedure only takes 20 minutes, but be prepared to stay for a few hours for prep and recovery time. A doctor specially trained in the procedure uses a flexible tube that has a light and miniature camera on the tip. This instrument, often referred to as the “scope,” is placed in the rectum and moved through the colon. It is connected to a monitor that your doctor watches while performing the test. Certain small tools can be inserted through the scope in order to help your doctor obtain biopsies, commonly referred to as samples. These tools can perform a wide range of maneuvers that help to diagnose or treat your condition.
Nearly 137,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, every year. In the U.S., over 50,000 people die from it annually. The disease is largely avoidable with regular screening and is treatable with early detection. If you are 50 or older, you need a screening colonoscopy. If you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, start at age 40. Talk to your doctor about getting screened, as it could save your life. A colonoscopy is not 100 percent, but evidence indicates that the miss rate is less for specially trained gastroenterologists, than for those physicians that have not had the special training.
Although the myth that colon cancer can only affect men is still prevalent, it could not be further from the truth. Both men and women can be affected by colon cancer, and in fact approximately 26,000 women die every year from the affliction. The disease does not discriminate against gender or race. Your age, and not your gender, is the single most important risk factor for colorectal cancer. Both men and women should undergo testing for the disease starting at age 50 (African Americans starting at the age of 45). Most insurance covers colonoscopy screening at that age. If you are 65 or older, Medicare covers colonoscopy. For many people, you do not need a referral in order to schedule an appointment.
Although colon cancer often has no symptoms, warning signs that may indicate colon cancer include blood in your stools, stools more narrow than normal, unexplained abdominal pain, unexplained change in bowel habits, unexplained anemia, and unexplained weight loss. These symptoms may be caused by other benign diseases such as hemorrhoids, inflammation in the colon or irritable bowel syndrome. However, if you have any of these symptoms, you should be evaluated by your physician.
Fact: When cancer is discovered during routine screening, patients have a 90 percent survival rate. If symptoms spur discovery of cancer, the survival rate drops to 8 percent.
When used as a colon cancer prevention method, having a colonoscopy done can potentially find precancerous growths called polyps and remove them before they turn into cancer. Once a person is found to have pre-cancerous polyps, it is important for them to follow the suggestions of the physician, as to when a repeat colonoscopy is needed.
Getting a colonoscopy is a priceless advancement in technology that helps to significantly improve the chances of preventing colon cancer. The doctors at Gastroenterology Consultants in Moline have been fellowship trained and have been helping patients from the Quad Cities and surrounding areas for over 30 years. The Regional Surgicenter and Gastroenterology Consultants were founded on servicing the unique needs of GI patients. You will find everything you need under one roof. This also translates into potential savings for you, because Regional Surgicenter is an Ambulatory Surgery Center, costs are generally much lower than at the hospital.
Gastroenterolgy Consultants is located at 545 Valley View Drive, Moline, IL 61265. To schedule an appointment, call 309-762-5560, or visit our website at www.heartlandqc.com. A patient portal is available to request appointments, medication refills or to ask questions. Evening and Saturday clinic hours available.
Denny Bush’s Story On Living With Colorectal Cancer
Cancer is tough. It’s all encompassing in ways you’d never expect. It has become such an epidemic in our society that people are sometimes afraid to even mention its name.
Cancer is a disease that can affect many different parts of the body. Some of these diseases are more serious than others. It is not only the disease that is painful but also the many ways of treating it. Radiation treatments may kill the cancer but are also dangerous for the body. Chemotherapy comes with many side effects such as hair loss and severe nausea. The many faces of this disease challenge an individual to show their fighting spirit and will to live.
At the age of 69, Denny Bush, became one of those individuals, when he was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. Going through both chemotherapy and radiation for a month at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and then again for six weeks in the Quad Cities area, left Denny Bush sick, but he isn’t giving up. Denny and his wife, Diana, have been married for 34 years, with two adult children and six grandchildren. Through the last three years since being diagnosed, his positive attitude has never wavered. “It’s more or less that I was able to cope with the chemotherapy very well, which normally tends to drag a person down,” says Denny. “I keep an optimistic outlook on life, I do the things I like to do still and being able to continue to do them helps keep me positive.”
Denny mentions that the most difficult part about going through a colonoscopy is the preparation a person takes the day before to clear your system, but that the actual procedure is not painful, and typically does not take longer than 15 minutes. Denny started experiencing blood in his stool and his doctor at that time required him to do a screening. In Denny’s case, the polyps were of an unusual shape and embedded in the wall of the colon which makes it harder to detect, fortunately for him the doctors at Gastroenterology Consultants were able to find and diagnose his cancer. According to Denny, by the time it was discovered, the cancer had already penetrated the colon’s wall, it had metastasized and spread to his liver — stage IV colon cancer. When this happens, a tumor is said to have metastasized, or invaded other regions of the body, which makes curing the cancer more difficult.
When asked how being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer has changed his perspective on life, he says; “When someone tells you that you have cancer, any kind of cancer at all, it’s such a shock to your brain, and it makes you really think deeply about your life. It’s even more mind-boggling to be told you have stage IV cancer. But, if you have stage IV cancer sometimes you can still do very well; especially with the technology and the advancements that we’ve made in science and the medical field today.”
“It definitely is a change of life, there is no question about it. I was told that for normal life expectancy, with what I have, was two and a half years. So you think about that a lot, and you try to enjoy doing the things you like to do, and being around the people you enjoy being with. You realize that life can be very short. I’m fortunate that I have gone past that two and a half year life expectancy and, at the present time, I am still able to have a pretty good quality of life. I feel that I’m fortunate to have had a colonoscopy so that they could catch it when they did. If I hadn’t, I probably would not be here today.” He is very thankful for all of the support from the team at Gastroenterology Consultants and his family and friends. The many prayers and well wishes have helped him to deal with this.
Colon cancer is a silent killer, which is the reason it is so important for you to get your screening. By the time there are symptoms it can mean the cancer is at an advanced stage. When colon cancer is caught early, most people are cured. However, when colon cancer is detected at later stages, the chances for cure are much lower.
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