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Health Team

Cancer Patient: Colonoscopies Are 'Imperative'

Posted October 11, 2007

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— Someone in the United States dies from colorectal cancer every nine minutes. It kills more people than breast cancer and AIDS combined.

Most of the deaths could be prevented with screening. There are a few options, but they're not all created equal.

Carol Kibler fought breast cancer 14 years ago. With aggressive treatment and the support of friends, she beat it.

“And breast cancer was a breeze compared to what I’m going through now,” she said.

In March, at age 60, Kibler said she noticed rectal bleeding. A colonoscopy revealed a tumor that was beginning to break through the wall of the colon, in danger of spreading.

“It pretty much blew me away,” she said.

Kibler said she had not been aware that at age 50, men and women should begin colorectal cancer screening. Dr. Martin Poleski, gastroenterologist at Duke University Medical Center, said a colonoscopy is the best way –  not only to find cancer, but also prevent it.

“It looks at the entire colon. It can remove any polyps that are there,” he said.

Polyps are small growths that could become cancerous.

The test has been proven to decrease the death rate from colon cancer by at least a third. Poleski said some people may choose to avoid a colonoscopy until an annual hemoccult test – testing for blood in a stool sample – reveals a problem, but the test can miss up to 50 percent of polyps and also show false positives.

“The doctor will say, ‘Well, you've got a little blood there.’ You'll have a colonoscopy again and they'll find nothing,” Poleski said.

Kibler had bowel resection surgery and is still in radiation and chemotherapy. If she could go back 10 years, she would choose nothing short of a colonoscopy.

“Had I known what I know now, I would have been there in a minute,” she said. “Getting a colonoscopy is imperative."

That's what she now preaches to all her friends.

16 Comments

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  • craziecrafter Oct 13, 2007

    Several months ago I had to have an Endoscopy for digestive problems my surgeon suggested while he had me under that they should go ahead and do a colonoscopy. I had it from both ends and don't remember any of it! When I woke up I asked if they had done anything. The worst thing about a colonoscopy is the day before. Hey, I needed to lose a few pounds anyway.

  • All child molesters should die Oct 13, 2007

    I'm only 42, and I'm suppose to have one now. I dread it!

  • gopanthers Oct 13, 2007

    Mtman - Just turned 48 and yes I know the rountine about the check ups after the age a 50. But geez I still have two years to go to be doing this. LOL

  • All child molesters should die Oct 13, 2007

    dholzworth1,

    I'm glad things are going better for you!

  • MISS OH BABY Oct 12, 2007

    purple*** I have changed my diet numerous of times and I eat plenty of high fiber foods and I take fiber supplements and I still have problems with my colon. So sometimes even if you do change your diet and cleanse regularly (because I take pills that make me go everyday with some cranberry and fiber foods) it doesnt change anything. Me being my age and having the problems im having i just dont know.

  • MISS OH BABY Oct 12, 2007

    well that sucks.. Im in my twenties and I have to have a colonoscopy next month :-(

  • FE Oct 12, 2007

    As a non-doctor here is my own two cents' worth:

    Everyone age 50 and above should have a colonoscopy. You can literally save your own life by finding a problem early. Unless you are high risk and/or have a family history of cancer, it is likely the test afterwards will only be needed every ten or perhaps five years. A little "inconvenience" the night before is a very small price to pay. Although you are responsive to the doctor during the procedure, between the pain medications and the amnesiac drugs you will remember little of the procedure. ("Well, I went into this room....and now I'm here.") Just don't do anything requiring clear thinking for a day or so.

    Some readers have mentioned the new virtual colonoscopy. Just note that if you have that procedure, and polyps are found (as they very frequently are!), then you would still need to do the regular colonoscopy later to remove/biopsy the polyps.

    I hope this helps those "on the fence."

    FE

  • dholzworth1 Oct 12, 2007

    At this time last year, I was undergoing chemo for colon cancer. I was diagnosed in May of 2006 at age 48. I was in good physical shape having run in several local races and even ran 13 miles the Saturday before I became sick. Surgery was a breeze compared to the chemo. I was luckier than most as my cancer was found early and was confined to the colon. My oncologist said that out of 100 doctors probably 50 would tell me not to have any chemo and the other 50 would prescribe chemo as a precaution because I was young and had a longer chance of it recurring. He wanted me to have 12 rounds of chemo and I did. My last treatment was Dec 7th of 2006. I had no symptoms until a day or two before they found it and even then it was just a stomach cramp. Please look for blood in your stool, narrowing of your stool,a feeling that you don't empty your bowels completely, and by all means get a colonoscopy at age 50 and as directed thereafter! I am happy to report that I am feeling great!

  • moogies Oct 12, 2007

    Both my husband and I have had our colonoscopies. Lucky for my husband, who has a family history of polyps, they found a pre-cancerous mass in his colon which had to be removed surgically. But the doctor said had that mass not been found, it probably would have turned into cancer and by the time my husband had showed any symptoms it would be too late. This is a classic case of getting the tests prescribed, going thru a little inconvenience, but seeing first hand what heartache and tragedy it can prevent. My husband goes regularly now for follow up colonoscopies and thanks God that if all he goes thru now is the 'night before' stuff that's not a big price to pay for life.

  • dhall357 Oct 12, 2007

    Had my first at 50 and they found one "pre-cancerous" polyp and removed it. That procedure was a breeze. To anyone who has not had this done, it is the bowel cleansing you must do the day before. You must take a salts laxative that really cleans you out. I told the nurse it was the strongest thing on earth, cause it could knock the c**p out of Superman. I had another at 54 and this was not so easy. My bowel was twiste and the nurse had to get on the table on her knees and push on my belly while the Doc tried to push the hose in. I felt like one of those movies where somebody has an alien life form trying to escape from inside. Good news was that after it was over I was all clear. Had a good friend die from colorectal cancer because she would not go and get checked out. New procedure, old procedure, get it done!

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