WAYNESBORO, Pa. – March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and providers at Summit Gastroenterology are asking community members to consider: What’s scarier – a colonoscopy or the possibility colon cancer goes undiagnosed?
“Many people are uncomfortable not only with the idea of a colonoscopy, but also with just having a conversation with their family doctor about it,” said Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner Andrew Lininger with Summit Gastroenterology. “Talking and having regular screenings based on your age and risk factors could very well save your life.”
Excluding skin cancers, colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death. While any cancer can be scary, colon cancer is often one of the most preventable types of cancer.
“Most often, colon cancer starts with a polyp or small growth,” explained Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner Andrew Lininger. “If found early they can be removed before progressing to cancer. That’s why it’s important to be screened regularly.”
Screening for colon cancer should begin at age 50.
“The initial screening will dictate how frequently you should have follow-up screenings,” noted Lininger. “Your gastroenterologist will determine whether you need additional screenings every year or every two, three, five or 10 years.”
People who have a family history of colon cancer should start getting screened earlier.
In addition to getting screened regularly with a colonoscopy, it is important to know the signs of the disease. Symptoms include:
- Changes in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, narrowing of stool) that lasts more than a few days
- Feeling the urge to have a bowel movement that is not relieved after going to the bathroom
- Blood in the stool, which may make it appear dark
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
Lininger noted that while it’s important to know the symptoms, it’s also important to not be overly alarmed if you experience one or two of these symptoms.
“Several of these symptoms can indicate other conditions such as an infection or irritable bowel syndrome so, the most important thing you can do if you experience symptoms is to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist,” added Lininger.
Lower Your Risk
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get active and limit time spent sitting
- Eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily
- Eat whole grains instead of refined products
- Limit red and processed meat consumption
- Limit alcohol intake (No more than1 drink for women, 2 drinks for men, daily)
- Avoid tobacco use in all forms
Summit Gastroenterology is located at 501 E. Main St., past the emergency entrance of Waynesboro Hospital. For more information or to schedule an appointment, click here.
Summit Health is a non-profit network of hospitals and physician practices dedicated to building a healthier community.
As Franklin County's leading healthcare provider, Summit Health offers family care, specialists, lab and imaging services, a fitness center, urgent care centers, and two award-winning hospitals.