March is Colorectal Cancer Screening Awareness month. Colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in this country, but it doesn't have to be. As Nancy Naeve Brown reports if you are 50 or older and haven't had a colonoscopy yet, here's a good reason to make an appointment.
Pat and Steve Lindquist from Sioux Falls are celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary April 20th, but this anniversary will also mark one year since Steve had surgery for colon cancer.
"The polyp was located where the small intestine joins the large intestine by the appendix. They had to remove about 5" of my colon and I missed about a month of work," Steve said.
Avera Gastroenterologist Dr. Cristina Hill Jensen found Steve's tumor during a colonoscopy. This image she showed us is magnified so it looks huge, but in actuality it was a little big bigger than the size of a pea.
"We start (screening) at age 50 because a majority of colon cancers really start to peak at age 60 and we've discovered that removing these polyps we can prevent colon cancer. A majority of colon cancers come from polyps so essentially removing them we are curing colon cancer, "Dr. Hill Jensen, Avera Medical Group Gastroenterology, said.
That cancer would have gone undetected had his wife not urged him to get in to get a colonoscopy and boy is she glad he did.
"Very. I'm very glad. We've been married 38 years next month and we are very close. I love him very much. I'm grateful. I have a history of losing my mom when I was 18 to cancer so I don't want to go through that again. I'm very grateful for the outcome, "Pat said tearing up.
"I didn't even think about it. I was feeling good, fine, there's a lot of other things to do like work and fun and it was never a priority. When the commercials came out to get a colonoscopy done I never associated it with me. I don't have a family history again I was feeling good so why should I do that? But it is important to do," Steve said.
Steve was one of the lucky ones. His cancer was stage 1: it hadn't perforated the lining of his colon or spread to other organs so after surgery he didn't need radiation or chemo therapy.
"My own thinking is if I would have done this 5 years ago it would have been nothing, it would have been a snap, but I didn't do it 5 years ago, 10 years ago. I was lucky enough to have a good outcome," Steve said.
Even though it was a good outcome, it still involved a major surgery that could have been prevented by a colonoscopy. This now 61 year old and his loving wife strongly recommend you start at age 50 and stop the cancer from growing in the first place.
Because Steve had colon cancer his daughters Ann and April will now need to be screened starting at age 40.
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To learn more or to schedule your colonoscopy exam call (605) 322-7797.