March is Colon Cancer Awareness month. This year alone an estimated 50,000 people will die from colon cancer. An astonishingly high number considering colon cancer is largely preventable with regular screening and treatable with early detection. It begs the question have you had your colonoscopy? Our Phil Schreck who would love to answer that question because he had a colonoscopy last year and let Nancy Naeve Brown and photojournalist Jeff Cleland tape the procedure in the hope of encouraging you to get one too.
In the summer 2010, a few months before his 50th birthday, Phil Schreck wanted to get an early start to this milestone by getting a colonoscopy and he really wasn't nervous about it either.
Phil says, "No. I'm actually looking forward to getting it done because I'm very thirsty, I'm very hungry, and they're putting me to sleep so there is no anxiety about the procedure itself."
For Phil drinking the gallon of cleanser wasn't the worst part it. He says it was not being able to eat at all.
Phil says, "That's okay. It's all part of it."
Phil's wife Kristie is a breast cancer survivor so the Schrecks are in tune to screening and early detection. His Avera Gastroenterologist Dr. Dany Shamoun applauds that way of thinking.
Dr. Dany Shamoun with Avera Gastroenterology Clinic says, "It's important to be vigilant about screening for cancer in general and specially colon cancer because it's one of the cancers that can really be prevented."
Dr. Shamoun uses a scope with a small camera attached to a flexible tube to internally examine the entire length of Phil's colon while Phil lie comfortably sedated. If any polyps are discovered, Dr. Shamoun removes them and sends them to pathology for testing.
Dr. Shamoun says, "He had 2 small polyps, what we call adenoma, which is a pre-cancerous polyp or lesion in the colon and this is what we're after when screening the colon to take those pre-cancerous lesions out and prevent colon cancer from developing".
And they did exactly what this colonoscopy did. Now Phil can join his wife in saying he too is cancer free which makes their friends, especially this one, extremely happy.
It's recommended that we get screened for colon cancer starting at age 50, but if you have a first degree relative who had colon cancer you should get a colonoscopy ten years prior to the age they were diagnosed. (Example: if they were 50 you get one done at 40)
If you want to find out if you are at risk for colon cancer, take a free health risk assessment on Avera's website: http://www.avera.org/clinics/gastroenterology/index.aspx