Modern Medicine: Colon Cancer Screening - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Modern Medicine: Colon Cancer Screening

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Statistics show one in 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer.  There are things you can do to help detect it early, such as having a screening test.

Symptoms such as rectal bleeding, changes in bowel habits, weight loss and a decreased appetite could signal colon cancer.  However, colon cancer often has no symptoms.  That's why a colonoscopy is so important.

Lisa Wickham had some alarming symptoms that brought her to the doctor.  That's when Dr. Shilpa Reddy from the Digestive Diseases Center suggested a colonoscopy.

"If we do find pre-cancerous lesions at the time of colonoscopy, we can remove them at that time, and that's the only test that's able to do that," explains Dr. Reddy.

Wickham says the test was not a frightening process, "You spend a few hours cleansing your body, of course not eating was the hardest part...it was simple."

The day before a colonoscopy, patients are given medicine to cleanse their system.  The day of the test they are given anesthesia, and a flexible tube is used to look inside the bowel.  It's painless for the patient.

Dr. Reddy says, "The colonoscopy is not as difficult as it used to be. We have better preps now that are smaller quantity and better tasting.  We have newer technology."

Wickham's test revealed that she has no cancer, which was quite a relief.

"My hopes and plans for the future are to continue to eat healthy and to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so that I can live a long time and continue to do preventive measures like a colonoscopy,"Wickham says. 

Dr. Reddy says screening for colon cancer should begin at age 50 and at age 45 for African Americans.  If you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, screening should begin at 40.