Screening for Colon Cancer: Just do it

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I have a patient who is absolutely phobic about getting a colonoscopy for colon cancer screening. She has a family history of colon cancer so the fear may be about what is "found" or it may just be the anxiety of going through the test. No amount of cajoling on my part or her husbands part has been successful for getting her tested. I've even offered valium to get her through it but she just won't take that next step.

I feel so strongly about this because colon cancer is one disease that is truly preventable if found early.

Here are some facts:

. Colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death from cancer

. Fewer than half of all men and women are up to date on their colon screenings

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. The majority of colon cancer is diagnosed in people over 50

. Colorectal cancer often occurs with no symptoms

. Most colorectal cancer can be cured if diagnosed at an early stage

. Regular colonoscopy can prevent colorectal cancer all together

. You can reduce the risk of colon cancer by maintaining ideal body weight, eating less fatty foods and increasing dietary fiber

.Researchers are trying to find biomarkers in blood or stool samples to simplify detection

If any of you readers have suggestions for me being more effective in helping patients see the benefits of colonoscopy, I'm happy to hear your comments.

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Comments

Have you read Dave Barry's article titled 'A journey through my colon'? It is hilarious and informative. He describes how fearful he was of having a colonoscopy until his 50 year old brother had a screening and was found to have cancer. Had he not been tested, he still would have had the cancer, it just might have been to late to save him by the time he had symptoms. I feel Mr. Barry's article takes a lot of the aprehension away from having the test. (www.miamiherald.com/dave_barry/story/427603.html) Good luck with your patient. Deborah H. Southwest GI Clinic [email protected]
Deborah H. Thanks and Dave Barry is great. Sometimes humor can really help people with the apprehension so I'll get it and use it in the future with patients. Toni Brayer, MD