March 8 – It’s Colon Cancer Awareness Month, so let’s talk about the procedure that tends to make a lot of people a little squeamish.
Nikki Sommer, a nurse with the Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about medical matters.
Not a lot of people like to talk about the colon (or even think about it, really) but with Colon Cancer Month, it’s time to consider getting a colonoscopy.
Sommer said, “I know we talk about this all the time. I’m beating it into everybody with a mallet to make sure you get it done.”
Sommer just had a colonoscopy in the beginning of the week.
“It was a breeze,” she said. “Literally, a breeze. It’s a procedure. A lot of times people might feel a little hung over from anesthesia. I actually didn’t feel hung over at all, which was wonderful. I went home and I took a nap. I got to have a great meal afterwards.”
Sommer selected tacos as her post-colonoscopy meal.
Colon cancer screenings are recommended for people starting at 45 years old because of higher incidents of colon cancer in adults.
Sommer said, “Get your colonoscopy. Get it out of the way. I got the 10-year bill of health so I don’t have to go back for 10 years.”
For those who have colon cancer in the family history, colonoscopies are recommended at age 40.
Signs and symptoms to watch for include change in bowel habits.
Sommer said, “That includes anything from diarrhea or constipation. Change in the consistency of your stool, if it’s too soft or too hard. Those are the things you need to pay attention to. Rectal bleeding – any time you see blood in your stool, you need to seek medical attention in the near future. It’s probably good to get a colonoscopy.”
Unexplained weight loss, weakness and fatigue could also be warning signs.
Risk factors include a personal history of colon cancer or polyps. African Americans also have a higher risk of colon cancer.
Sommer said, “If you have inflammatory intestinal issues, like Chron’s Disease or ulcerative colitis, you need to make sure you get your colonoscopy when your doctor tells you it’s time.”
Don’t ignore a family history of colon cancers.
Sommer said, “Don’t put it off. Don’t put your life on the back burner, especially when there’s a family history because there is a strong connection.”
Diets low in fiber and high in fat can make a person more susceptible to colon cancer.
A sedentary lifestyle could also increase the risk.
Sommer said, “Diabetes, smoking and excessive alcohol can all contribute to an increased risk of colon cancer.”
The best way to detect colon cancer is a colonoscopy.
Sommer said, “Polyps start out really small, so the sooner you have your colonoscopy if they’re in there, they can be removed and sent off to the lab and analyzed. Most polyps are benign. It’s the ones that are the adenomas that we worry about. Those are the ones if left in can turn into cancer. So you want to know what type of polyp you have if you do have polyps because that is going to negate whether your next colonoscopy is in three years or five.”
For more information on Key West Surgical Group, click here: https://www.keywestsurgicalgroup.com/