Maryville, MO, March 22, 2012 - Notable Americans who have suffered from colon cancer include President Ronald Reagan and singer/actress Eartha Kitt. The next colon cancer victim could notably be you, according to Dr. Shellie Faris, a general surgeon at St. Francis Hospital & Health Services.
“Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States,” said Dr. Faris. “There are no noticeable early signs and once symptoms are recognized, it is sometimes too late to intervene successfully.”
Fifty thousand deaths are attributed to colon cancer each year. That means on average, 1,000 Missourians will die of colon cancer over the next twelve months. Part of the tragedy is that most of those deaths can be prevented. If detected early, colon cancer is one of the most successfully treated forms of cancer. Survivor rates are almost 90%, an amazing success rate in the fight against cancer.
“We are making colon cancer awareness and prevention a priority because the incidence of colon cancer in Nodaway County is higher than the state and national rates,” said Dr. Faris.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the annual incidence rate for colon and rectum cancer for Nodaway County is 69.4 (per 100,000 population), compared to the state rate of 50.3 and national rate of 47.6. For males in Nodaway County the rate is higher at 93.3 compared to the Missouri and U.S. rates of 59.7 and 55.6 respectively.
“That’s why it’s critical to have colon screenings starting at the age of 50,” said to Dr. Faris, “even when you are not having any problems. You might need examined at a younger age if you have a family history of colon cancer or warning signs. Discuss with your doctor when you should start your screenings and how often you should be examined.”
Colon cancer warning signs you should be aware of include:
Rectal bleeding, unusually dark stools or stools containing blood
Prolonged changes in bowel activity such as diarrhea, constipation and narrowing of stools
A continual sense that you still need to have a bowel movement that doesn’t go away
Stomach pain or cramps
Weakness or fatigue
“The best detection is through a colon screening,” said Dr. Faris. “One of the most common and effective screenings is called a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy provides early detection for warning signs that will otherwise go unnoticed until it’s too late. It can also identify polyps for easy removal before they become cancerous. Its costs are covered by most insurance carriers.”
For more information about colonoscopies or scheduling a colonoscopy at St. Francis, visit our website at www.stfrancismaryville.com or call 660-562-2525 to schedule an appointment.