Friday, March 18, 2011

National Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man promotes colorectal cancer awareness. I had a colonoscopy last year.

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal (colon cancer) is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in men and women. But what many people don't know is that it's largely preventable. You can significantly reduce your risk with regular screening, and by watching your weight and being physically active. (Source: American Cancer Society

Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in either the colon or the rectum. Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in this country. Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man promotes colon health and colorectal cancer awareness. I have pasted several excerpts from the American Cancer Society website on Colorectal Cancer. Please visit the American Cancer Society website ( for more detailed information.

The American Cancer Society and several other medical organizations recommend earlier testing for people with increased colorectal cancer risk. These recommendations differ from those for people at average risk. Even though medical professionals do not know the exact cause of most colorectal cancers, it is possible to prevent many colorectal cancers. For more information, talk with your doctor.

Colorectal Screening

Regular colorectal cancer screening or testing is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colorectal cancer. Screening is the process of looking for cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease.

Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are screening exams for colorectal cancer (commonly referred to as "colon cancer"). But false information and a misplaced sense of modesty have scared some people away from these lifesaving tests. Since Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man had a colonoscopy, I will focus on the the colonoscopy screening exam. Once again, please refer to the American Cancer Society website ( for comprehensive cancer information.

A colonoscopy is an exam that allows a doctor to closely look at the inside of the entire colon. The doctor is looking for polyps or signs of cancer. Polyps are small growths that over time can become cancer. The doctor uses a thin (about the thickness of a finger), flexible, hollow, lighted tube that has a tiny video camera. This tube is called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is gently eased inside the colon and sends pictures to a TV screen. Small amounts of air are puffed into the colon to keep it open and allow the doctor to see clearly.

The exam itself takes about 30 minutes. Patients are usually given medicine to help them relax and sleep during the procedure.

Your doctor decides how often you need this test, usually once every 10 years, depending on your personal risk for colon cancer. It's important for people to talk with their doctor to understand their risk for colon cancer, the guidelines they should follow for testing, and whether they need to start being tested at age 50 or earlier.

For the most part, patients are given medicine to sleep through the colonoscopy, so they won't feel anything. Air is pumped into the cleaned-out colon to keep it open so that doctors can get the best pictures. While it may cause slight discomfort, it should not hurt.

A colonoscopy is almost always done by a doctor, usually a gastroenterologist (a doctor whose specialty is the digestive tract) or a surgeon.

Colonoscopy is done in a private area; it may be a hospital outpatient department, a clinic, an ambulatory surgery center, or a doctor's office. The patient's privacy is a top concern.

The preparation for the colonoscopy makes you to go the bathroom a lot! The doctor will give you instructions. Read these carefully a few days ahead of time, since you may need to shop for special supplies and get laxatives from a pharmacy. If you are not sure about any of the instructions, call the doctor's office and go over them step by step with the nurse. Many people consider the bowel preparation (often called the "bowel prep") the most unpleasant part of the test. You follow a special diet the day before the exam and take very strong laxatives before the procedure. You may also need enemas to clean out the colon. The key to getting good pictures is to have the colon cleaned out.

Because colonoscopy is usually done with drugs that make you sleepy, people usually will miss a day of work. You'll need to stay close to a bathroom. You might want to schedule the exam for a Monday, so you can be at home the day before without taking that day off work.

Most people feel OK after a colonoscopy. They may feel a bit woozy from the drugs (anesthesia). They'll be watched and given fluids as they wake up. They may have some gas, which could cause mild discomfort. Because of the medicines given for the test, most facilities require that you bring someone to take you home.

If a small polyp is found, your doctor will probably remove it. Over time some polyps could become cancer. If your doctor sees a large polyp, a tumor, or anything else abnormal, a biopsy will be done. For the biopsy, a small piece of tissue is taken out through the colonoscope or sigmoidoscope. It is sent to a lab to be checked under a microscope for cancer or pre-cancer cells.

Colorectal cancer screening helps people stay well and save lives. Regular colorectal cancer testing is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colorectal cancer. Removing polyps prevents colorectal cancer from ever starting. And cancers found in an early stage are more easily treated. Nine out of 10 people whose colon cancer is discovered early will be alive 5 years later. And many will live a normal life span.

But too often people don't get these tests. Then the cancer can grow and spread without being noticed, like a silent invader. In many cases, by the time people have any symptoms the cancer is very advanced and very hard to treat.

Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man is grateful for the talents of the medical professionals who performed his colonoscopy. Thank you!

Richard T. Mudrinich
Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man


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