Over 50? Now's the time to schedule colon cancer screening - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Over 50? Now's the time to schedule colon cancer screening

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(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

Each year, 2,300 people in South Carolina are diagnosed with colon cancer and 800 people die.

"We know that, on the whole, people are not comfortable talking about that part of our bodies," said Ros Squirewell, a colorectal cancer survivor. "It's not dinner party conversation."

Squirewell is quite comfortable talking about her body, even while baking.

When she was 45, she noticed something was wrong with constant constipation.

"The gastroenterologist came in and said, 'Well, Ros, there's two things: one of them is that you are anemic, and we can fix that easily, the other one is that you have a large malignant tumor in your colon,'" Squirewell said. "I was devastated."

After immediate surgery and a year of chemotherapy, Squirewell has been cancer free for the last 18 years.

"I had not had any colonoscopies and had no idea that there was any cancer in my family," she said.

Dr. March Seabrook with Consultants in Gastroenterology said the most significant risk factor for developing colorectal cancer is the number of candles on your birthday cake.

"That's why we recommend everyone over the age of 50 be screened for this; some organizations will recommend that African-Americans should be screened at 45," Seabrook said.

Seabrook said the disease in African-Americans can be more aggressive, but preventable in most anyone, if caught early.

"It is one of the most preventable diseases." Seabrook said. "We all hear about breast cancer, prostate cancer. Our goals with those cancers is to detect them early enough to try to treat or cure them. Our goal with colorectal cancer is prevention. Actually taking out pre-cancerous polyps, pre-cancerous growths, if you will, from the colon."

Doctors say your lifestyle, of course, plays a major role in your colon health.

"I just don't want people to have to go through what I went through," Squirewell said.

USC's Center for Colon Cancer Research has a partnership that offers a state-wide colonoscopy screenings to the uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved in South Carolina.

For more information about colon cancer, visit www.cancer.gov.

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