A Colonoscopy Saved Her Life
Everyone, whether you’re a woman or a man, should get a colonoscopy screening at age 50. This is the No. 1 way to prevent colon cancer. Symptoms are not always prevalent, which makes screening essential.
However, there are times when someone may be at higher risk or may have some signs that would require a screening much earlier than expected.
Kyle Williams was just 45 when she saw her primary care physician for an annual exam. Kyle mentioned that she might have seen blood in her stool, but wasn't experiencing any of the other symptoms that were of great concern.
To be on the safe side, her doctor recommended that she see a gastroenterologist.
Her MetroHealth gastroenterologist decided Kyle should have a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer; though was not too concerned that they would find anything. Kyle was too young, had no other symptoms and had no family history of colon cancer.
However, much to everyone’s surprise, they found a cancerous tumor in her colon. The tumor was removed through laparoscopic surgery and Kyle also underwent six months of chemotherapy as a precaution against spreading.
Five years later, Kyle has a clean bill of health.
"The doctors said that if I had not had the colonoscopy, the cancer may have spread more aggressively and that treatment may not have been as successful,” says Kyle. “The screening literally saved my life.”
Now an advocate for colon cancer prevention, Kyle shares her story with anyone who will listen.
Early Detection is the Best Chance for a Cure
As seen in Kyle’s situation, colorectal cancer can be prevented and is treatable if caught early. However, it is estimated that 130 people die each day from this deadly disease.
“If everyone aged 50 years old or older were screened regularly, as many as 60% of deaths from this cancer could be prevented,” says Annette M. Kyprianou, MD, a gastroenterologist at MetroHealth.
It is important to get the facts and be aware of the importance of colon cancer screenings as we age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer — cancer of the colon or rectum — is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States.
The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age. More than 90% of cases occur in people aged 50 or older. In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
Currently, there is no consensus on the role of diet in preventing colorectal cancer, but medical experts recommend a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grain products to reduce the risk of other chronic diseases, such as coronary artery disease and diabetes. Some studies show that increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight may decrease the risk for colorectal cancer. The most effective way to reduce your risk is by having regular colorectal cancer screening tests, such as a colonoscopy, beginning at age 50.
What is a colonoscopy?
Colorectal cancer can often be prevented with a screening called a colonoscopy. This is an outpatient procedure that involves placing a scope — a thin tube — into the rectum and taking a look at the entire lining of the colon.
“Getting a colonoscopy is important because we can prevent colon cancer,” explains Dr. Kyprianou. “When we take a look at the lining of the colon, we are looking for polyps. Polyps are what turn into cancer. If we see a polyp, we remove it so that it doesn’t have time to form into a cancer.”
It’s time to get a colonoscopy if:
- You are a man or a woman age 50 or older
- You have a family history of colon cancer or polyps
- You are having symptoms such as rectal bleeding and weight loss
The day before the colonoscopy, the patient is put on a clear liquid diet and, in the evening, is given a laxative to clean out the colon.
On the day of the procedure, the patient is sedated for comfort. A scope is placed into the rectum to examine the entire lining of the colon. If a polyp is found, it is removed and sent to a lab for analysis.
“Most patients after the procedure say, "Wow, is the procedure done, really?’ or ‘That wasn’t so bad,'" Dr. Kyprianou says.
We Are Here to Help
MetroHealth offers a comprehensive team of experts to prevent and treat colorectal cancer. The gastroenterology team works closely with colorectal surgeons along with the MetroHealth Cancer Care Center offering personalized, state-of-the-art care that you can trust.
Early Detection is the best chance for a cure. To schedule a colonoscopy, call the MetroHealth Endoscopy Center at 216-778-1893.