Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Screening for Colon Cancer - Just do it


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
  • 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.

9 comments:

PharmacistMike said...

It is a long shot but perhaps if she had a colorectal cancer survivor with a similar family structure to talk to and be reassured. I am sure she is scared but it is better to be scared and treated then dead.

Linda Cole Leighton said...

For some people playing ostrich is safer for them. I don't get it, but I think Mike's idea is a good one. I had my fifth colonoscopy last month. I was thrilled that I had no polyps again this time. Now I can go 10 more years. The test is a breeze once one gets past the prep. I prefer to deal with it head on and get anything even possibly dangerous out of there, but some people have a rough time with that. I hope you can find something to help your patient!!

K said...

I know a vasovagal guy who regularly faints at simple shots or blood tests who has gotten at least one colonoscopy. Taking Valium (and I think something else) really helped him get through it. If he can do it (and this is a man who coded before he'd been touched during toe surgery), then so can your friend. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

My mother was one of those who didn't have a colonoscopy until it was too late and the cancer had metasticized to her liver. When she was told of the cancer, her first response was, "Get it out of there." Surgery couldn't happen soon enough for her--she wanted the alien out of there! She had surgery, but the bottom line was, it was too late to do anything but buy her a little time. My sister and I have had colonoscopies. We understand and share some of the same anxieties as your patient. It is GREAT to hear, "nothing found, you've got a healthy colon," very worth the stress of anticipating the worst.

Linda Fairchild said...

I procrastinated on my first for 2 years, for all the same stupid reasons as everyone else, but when I actually did it, it was so easy and painless. The statistics drew me in!! Remarkably effective with huge benefit. Sadly my young friend is not so lucky; she had a colonoscopy after abdominal pain and the test showed colo-rectal cancer rapidly metastasized into Stage 4 liver cancer, but this is a very unusual case. So everyone, just do it!

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Marvin said...

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