Colon cancer awareness month

March 16, 2012 2:57:19 PM PDT
If you are hearing a lot about colon cancer in recent weeks there's a reason.

The most important one is: it kills 50,000 Americans every year and some of those deaths could be prevented.

That's why this month Eyewitness News is trying to bring you awareness.

Colon cancer is so prevalent, many of us know someone who either has it, survived it, or died from it.

Anybody who's lost a loved one becomes committed to spreading the message: get screened.

The screening test is a colonoscopy, involving cleaning the colon after a one day cleansing preparation.

Unfortunately, the dread of both the preparation and the test keep many away.

This week, cancer touched our area in a broad way, when it took the life of well loved New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne.

Also this week, our own Eyewitness News anchor, Liz Cho, remembered her dad, Dr. Sang Cho, on her Facebook page.

He also lost his life to colon cancer.

"I think he thought it would never happen to me, and when he found out, it was already stage four. I so wish my father had taken better care of himself," Cho said.

ABC newsperson Katie Couric on "Good Morning America" this week, implored viewers to get screened, taking a lighthearted look at the preparation for a screening colonoscopy.

Her 42-year-old husband, Jay Monahan, lost his life to the disease.

But like many people, Elma Hawkins had not even considered getting screened for colon cancer, until her doctor suggested it would be a gift to herself on her 50th birthday.

"The results of that were so astounding that I was diagnosed with colon cancer, I owe my life to her insistence of getting screened," Hawkins said.

Her doctor, Felice Schroll-Sussman is head of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health.

"Our motto is don't die of embarrassment, don't allow misconceptions about the exam allow you not to take the exam," Dr. Schroll-Sussman said.

Screening involves a one day intestinal cleansing and a painless procedure in which a tube and camera are inserted up the colon to examine it.

It's a method which unfortunately keeps many from getting screened.

"The reality is this, wouldn't one day out of your life to prepare for this exam and undergo this exam, wouldn't that be an amazing gift to yourself to avoid getting colon cancer. That's really what it comes down to," Dr. Schroll-Sussman said.

At age 50, get a colonoscopy and follow up as scheduled. .

If someone in your family has been diagnosed, talk to your doctor about a screening at a younger age.

It's a minor discomfort and one of the really good ways doctors have of saving lives from cancer.

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