Healthbeat: A Holiday Discussion: Health Screening Status

Healthbeat

EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The holidays are often a time to catch up on what’s happening in your loved ones’ lives.

Health officials are urging that discussion to include where your family and friends stand with their health screenings. Many of us put certain health screenings on hold during the pandemic. But one man who shared his survival story with Eyewitness News is proof those screenings can be a life-saver.

“I was the bulletproof guy. No risk factors, lived a healthy lifestyle. No vices,” colon cancer survivor Scott said.

He was also a 100-mile a month runner at age 50. But this man named Scott was running behind on a health screening he should have undergone starting at age 45.

“When my doctor brought up a colonoscopy, I was resistant,” Scott said.

So his doctor recommended Cologuard: an at-home, non-invasive colon cancer test in which patients send a stool sample to a designated laboratory for analysis. His results?

“It came back positive. I took a colonoscopy. They found a tennis ball-sized tumor which had to be removed with surgery,” Scott said.

A new Harris poll finds 73 percent of 45 to 49-year-old adults surveyed believe they are at low or no risk for colon cancer.

“People do not recognize the fact that they are at average risk. Everybody, every man and woman is at average risk for colorectal cancer if they’re over the age of 45 and they have a colon,” Dr. Angela Nicholas, Chief Medical Officer at Einstein Medical Center in Montgomery said.

Pennsylvania native Dr. Nicholas heads the board of the advocacy group Fight Colorectal Cancer. Her husband died in 2019 from the disease in his mid 40s.

“You’re at high risk if you have a personal family history of colorectal cancer or an illness such as inflammatory bowel disease or ulcerative colitis and you should get screened earlier if you have those conditions,” Dr. Nicholas said.

In recent years, the recommended age for colorectal screening was lowered to 45, whether it’s the traditional colonoscopy involving sedation and a colonoscope to search the colon for abnormalities, or the at-home test which tests for blood in the stool. So which screening option should you choose?

“I think the best testing method is the one that the patient will do,” Dr. Nicholas said.

“The cancer doesn’t wait. Like me, you might not have any symptoms at all. But get tested, get screened early,” Scott said.

He’s living proof screening works and proof of just how important it is to keep up with your health screenings. So be aware, and make sure a loved one is, too.

To learn more, visit fightcolorectalcancer.org or cologuard.com.

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