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Voice of the people

Apr. 02, 2013 @ 10:46 PM

Colonoscopy can help save your life

Life is a tapestry of events. Births, new friendships, graduations, travel, jobs, marriages, deathst and, sometimes, life-threatening illness all shape our lives.

Two years ago, after feeling bad for months, I learned that I had advanced colorectal cancer. Since then, I have learned a lot more.

I learned that colorectal cancer is the largest cancer killer of non-smoking Americans.

I learned that every four minutes, in this country, someone is diagnosed with colorectal cancer; every nine minutes someone dies from it.

I learned West Virginia has the highest rate of incidence and death from colorectal cancer of all 50 states.

I learned that, while the rate of colorectal cancer is very high in all adult age groups, the one age group that now has increasing rates is people ages 20-30.

Frequently, young adults are told that the symptoms (abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, change in bowel shape and/or blood in stool) are “probably ‘irritable bowel’” and/or “You are too young...” to have colorectal cancer or to have a colonoscopy.

That is simply not true.

Too often, by the time they are finally diagnosed, these young adults may have reached an advanced stage of colorectal cancer.

But there is some good news — that colorectal cancer is preventable.

During an on-time colonoscopy, any polyps that might become cancerous are removed.

Colorectal cancer is treatable.

My physicians at Memorial Sloan Kettering and at Lombardi Cancer Center used a new application of a standard treatment that saved my life.

Colorectal cancer can be beatable with early detection and treatment.

If you have symptoms, at any age, tell your doctor you want a diagnostic colonoscopy.

If you are 50-plus (or 45-plus if you are African American) get screened for colorectal cancer.

Don’t become a statistic.

Marcia Sullivan Mullins




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