It's a disease that will kill more than 50,000 people this year alone, that's roughly a third of the population of Sioux Falls. But Colorectal cancer is also the most treatable form of cancer if caught early and the road to a long healthy life starts with a colonoscopy.
Just hearing the word colonoscopy will cause most people to cringe. So getting anyone to voluntarily sign up for one can be a big challenge.
"I think people think about colonoscopy and think about a very unpleasant test." Said Dr. Clint Seifert, a surgeon with Avera Medical Group Surgery in Mitchell.
I'm sure they're really thinking, "you want to put that where?"
Colon cancer screenings are often found as the punch line in jokes, even PSA's and advertisements on the subject have to take a light-hearted approach. But the message behind the laughter is that these test do save lives and being punctual is critical.
"When you can catch colon cancer at an early stage it's much more treatable there's much higher chance of it being cured with the treatment we have available so that's the importance of having it done before you're having symptoms while you have a chance to catch it early." Said Dr. Clint Seifert
Colorectal cancer affects men and women of all ages and you should start regular screenings after your 50th birthday. Take it from KSFY's Phil Shreck, who just two years ago got his first colonoscopy.
Even with good insurance, scheduling an screening can hurt your wallet more than your... well, you know where I'm going. But thanks to the Avera Queen of Peace foundation, if you schedule a colonoscopy in March they'll provide up to $500 to help ease the pain.
"I think it's a real reflection of the generosity of the community. The community raised a lot of money through the Splash of Spirits fundraiser and it's a reflection of the generosity of the hospital and the foundation's generosity to put money towards something that can really make a difference for people." Said Dr. Seifert.
Cancer tends to strike without warning but there are ways to help lower your risk. It's starts with simply limiting your tobacco and alcohol use. Then making sure you have a healthy diet, one with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Having a good exercise regimen in place will not only lower your risk of colorectal cancer, your overall health will improve as well. But the sure fire way to prevent cancer is that dreaded colonoscopy.
"Colonoscopy is not as bad as it may sound it's an easy test for them to go through it's certainly a lot easier to go through having a colonoscopy and perhaps having some polyps removed than going through a major operation to have a part of your colon removed when you've developed cancer." Said Dr. Seifert.
So don't let your pride get in the way of living a long healthy life. Schedule a screening and try not to think too hard about that endoscope.
Once again, colonoscopies should start once you reach age 50. However, if you have a family history starting at 40 is recommended. For more information about colorectal cancer or scheduling a colonoscopy just call 877-AT-AVERA.