PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Despite awareness campaigns, the CDC reports about a third of adults in the U.S. admit they are not up-to-date with their colon cancer screening.
That percentage exists despite the CDC reporting the number of people who are up-to-date has increased in recent years. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, a local hospital used a huge visual on Tuesday to drive home the importance of colorectal cancer screening.
Walking into the lobby of Geisinger Wyoming Valley, something really big caught Anthony Feola’s attention.
“Obviously, it draws your eye in here. I’m not sure exactly what this thing is here,” said the Wilkes-Barre man.
It was a giant, inflatable colon. The visual display helped emphasize the importance of screening for colon cancer.
The display featured malignant polyps and other diseases of the colon. Gastroenterologist Seth Kaufer says you should begin colon cancer screening “at the latest, starting at age 50 but for some people sooner.”
When it comes to screening methods there are options. Dr. Kaufer said, “They’re finding more and more newer things to help kind of look for those markers or risk factors in your blood, in your stool, on imaging.”
While the at-home screening kit Cologuard or the virtual colonoscopy CT scan colonography may be right for some, Dr. Kaufer said, “The gold standard is obviously doing the colonoscopy.”
Colonoscopies allow doctors to find and even snare pre-cancerous polyps and prevent a disease that claims more than 50,000 lives each year.
“It gives me peace of mind that I know everything is all right.” said Joan Considine, RN who is a Geisinger nurse.
She signed up at the display to schedule her 10-year colonoscopy. She’s had two previous ones.
“You don’t even know that you had it. You go in, you go to sleep, they take you, they do the test, you wake up and you don’t even know that you had it,” said Ms. Considine.
At 30, Mr. Feola is much younger than the recommended screening age. But the giant, inflatable image left him with a lasting impression.
“Especially when you’re looking at men, right? It’s like colonoscopy, colons. Nah, I don’t want to be dealing with that. I’m not there yet, right? But yeah, it’s important,” he said.
The CDC reports each year nearly 137,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer in the U.S. It is highly preventable with regular screening and highly treatable with early detection.