Family Matters: Colonoscopy

By Bob Townsend - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

In almost all cases, early detection can lead to a complete cure, but only 54% of men and women report ever having an endoscopic screening, mainly a colonoscopy.

Margo Williams is one of the lucky ones.  She was diagnosed with an advanced case of colon cancer at 35.

Her doctor had diagnosed her with hemmoroids and she was taken medication for that.   But the problem got worse, she saw another doctor and that is when she found out she had stage two colon cancer, which meat the cancer had spread thru the muscle wall of the colon.    A colonoscopy confirmed that a tumor found was cancerous.

"A fecal occult blood test may detect small amounts of blood in the stool, which could suggest colon cancer.  But only a colonoscopy can see the entire colon," said Williams.

A colonoscopy is an internal examination of the large intestine.   A small camera is attached to a flexible tube, to examine the colon. Tissue samples may be taken with tiny biopsy forceps inserted thru the scope.   Polups may be removed with snares and photographs may be taken.

Thorough cleansing of the bowel is mandatory, and doctors say it is not as bad as it used to be.

"Many cases of colon cancer have no symptoms.   However, the following may indicate colon cancer: diarrhea, constipation, and other changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen," said Dr. William Gramely.

A regular checkup may help prevent everything that Margo Williams went thru.  And by being a cancer survivor, she is passionate about seeing your doctor at the first sign of a problem.

After extensive medical treatment, Margo is cancer free and is doing well.