Monday, August 10, 2009


I read a good book last week called "What Your Doctor May Not tell You About Colorectal Cancer", by Mark Bennett Pochapin, M.D. I was reminded, again, about the fact that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined in the U.S. An estimated 150,000 people this year will be diagnosed with the disease, and more than 57,000 of them will die from the disease. The interesting thing is that colorectal cancer is 90% curable when caught in its early stages. Therein lies the catch - much of the time it is not caught in the early stages. Most often a person is not diagnosed with colorectal cancer until they have symptoms, and by that time the disease is advanced. A simple colonoscopy can detect early colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps. It is truly a life-saving procedure.

So, I am here again to remind you to GO GET A COLONOSCOPY! Please.

Dr. Pochapin lists The Five Deadliest Myths about colorectal cancer and I think it is important that you are aware of them. So, here is his list, with my comments.

Myth #1: Only Old People Get It, Young People Don't
While it's true that the incidence of colorectal cancer does begin to rise significantly as you get older (age 50 and up), studies now show that the incidence of colorectal cancer among young adults is rising rapidly. I have been visiting a website called "The Colon Club" ( and it is eye-opening to read about the many young adults, as young as age 22, being diagnosed with this frightening disease. So, don't think that you are too young. 

Myth #2: Colorectal Cancer is a Man's Disease
Yes, it's true that some diseases occur more frequently in men than in women, but colorectal cancer is not one of them! Ladies, please add colorectal testing to your list of regular exams such as a pap smear and mammogram. Don't wait until you have symptoms.

Myth #3: No One in My Family Ever Had Colorectal Cancer, so I'm Not at Risk
No one in my family has ever had colorectal cancer either, and I do. Almost 80% of the people diagnosed with colorectal cancer have absolutely no family history of the disease. It is true that a family history increases your risk, but don't think that you are safe if no one in your family has had the disease.

Myth #4: I Don't Need to Worry About Colorectal Cancer, I Feel Fine
Early stages of colorectal cancer produce no symptoms. Like me, you can feel fine and still have colorectal cancer. And this is the stage you want to catch it! No symptoms = increased chance of long-term survival. Don't wait until you have symptoms to get a colonoscopy, it may be too late. Get screened when you are feeling fine.

Myth #5: Colorectal Cancer Always Starts With Blood in the Stool
Bleeding is only one of several symptoms of a large, growing tumor, and many times there is no bleeding at all. Other symptoms of colorectal cancer are a change in bowel habits; new abdominal discomfort such at bloating, gas, pain, cramping, or fullness; bright red or very dark bleeding; constant fatigue; unexplained weight loss; unexplained iron deficiency; unexplained anemia. Remember early stage tumors produce no symptoms. Don't wait for symptoms.

Your best chance of preventing and detecting colorectal cancer is to have a colonoscopy. Just have one now, whatever your age. If your colon is clean, then you don't have to do it again for five years. It is worth the cost, worth the risk, worth the time, and worth the embarrassment. 

Colorectal tumors begin as polyps. They are naturally slow-growing. Then at some point, normally 5-15 years after they first appear, for some reason a switch flips and they mutate and become fast-growing cancerous tumors. If I had had a colonoscopy at age 35 or 40 I could have had my "polyp" removed preventing it from turning cancerous. I might not have had to fight this fight now.

I know not all insurance will pay for a colonoscopy, but make plans and start saving to have one done. It would make a nice Christmas gift for your spouse! If your colon is clear you'll be glad you did it. If it's not, you'll be really glad you did it. Trust me. I know.


  1. I'll do it.

    I made Paul have one done a few years ago because he always has stomach issues....probably just my cooking!!!

    Like so many others, I tend to fall under the deception of no signs = nothing wrong.

    I remember my dad having a colonoscopy for no reason other than my parents are really good at doing all the test that are recommended and I vaguely remember them finding polyps... its making sense to me now... I hadn't thought anything about it back then but after reading this...its making sense... what if they hadn't found them at that time... now, 5 or so years later... would they be cancerous???

    Thanks for the push..... I'll do it.

  2. Laura, Thanks for the medical advice, and for sharing your story. How would someone go about finding a good doctor for a colonoscopy; do you have one you recommend?

  3. You will happy to know that I did get mine scheduled FINALLY!! It is Sept 15th....I promised I would do it so now comes the waiting! But if my Dad had done this, he may still be alive today...his was caught WAY too late. DO IT PEOPLE!!! It is not bad at all..This is #3 for me and I am only 38!