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A Colonoscopy is the First Step in Colon Cancer Detection

At Mercy Fitzgerald, find out how to fight it.

If she hadn’t had a colonoscopy at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, Daisy Century would never have known she had colon cancer.colon cancer detection

When pain in her side prompted a visit to her doctor, who recommended she have a colonoscopy, the thought of “cancer” did cross her mind. There’s a history of cancer in Daisy’s family.

But the 63-year-old woman was active, busy and generally healthy. After all, how many grandmothers do you know that hold black belts in karate?

“My mom had colon cancer and two aunts died of cancer,” she says. “When I felt crampiness and pain, I thought I should have it checked out.”

Others can learn from Daisy’s experience. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if everyone aged 50 or older had regular colon screenings, deaths from colon cancer – the second leading cancer killer in the country – could be cut by at least 60 percent.

“We are missing more than half the population that should have colonoscopies,” says Steven Lichtenstein, DO, Director of Gastroenterology at Mercy Fitzgerald. “We need to educate people as to how easy the screening is.”

“We also have to fight the idea that if there are no symptoms, then the bowels are fine,” he continued. “Polyps develop and go from pre-cancerous to cancerous over time. You don’t want to wait for symptoms. It may be too late.”

Equipped for Comfort and State-of-the-art Care

Daisy had her colonoscopy at the new Endoscopy Center at Mercy Fitzgerald, home to state-of-the-art technology in colon screenings.

The scope used in colonoscopies provides real-time 3-D images and is equipped with a guide that accurately pinpoints the location of polyps. Patients benefit from the technology, but appreciate other features of the Endoscopy Center as well.

“Patient-friendly space, easy registration, private changing areas … it’s designed for comfort,” says Dr. Lichtenstein.

Following her colonoscopy, Daisy had surgery to remove a section of her colon. Chemotherapy is also part of her ongoing treatment.

She calls her team of Mercy caregivers “just wonderful people.” From Dr. Lichtenstein to hematologist/oncologist Dr. Eugene Choi to her surgeon, Prashanth Ramachandra, MD, everyone really impressed her.

Daisy has barely slowed down since surgery. And as for those karate skills, she can’t spar at the moment, but she’s ready to get right back to it once she’s done treatment.

“I still go to class, ride my bike and jog,” she says. “I feel very, very lucky.”

Be Smart, Get a Colonoscopy

Are you over 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy yet? Don’t delay. Colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting colon cancer, and direct access endoscopy is available at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital.

  • For someone of average risk, with no immediate family affected by colon cancer, get your initial screening at age 50; repeat every 5 to 10 years, based on a doctor’s recommendation.
  • African-Americans, who have a higher risk of colon cancer, should have their initial screening at age 45.
  • For those who have had polyps or have a close relative who has, follow your doctor’s advice on when to begin and how often to have a colonoscopy.

SCHEDULE YOUR APPOINTMENT TODAY Mercy Fitzgerald offers Direct Access Endoscopy for qualified patients, allowing self-referral for the service. For more information, call 1.877.GO MERCY or 610.237.7360, or visit Mercyhealth.org/GI.

Mercy Health System has doctors and programs that can benefit your health. Find a Doctor on our website or call 1.877.GO MERCY to learn more.

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Review Date: October 02, 2013
Reviewed By: Dr. Steven Lichtenstein, DO
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