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Physicians Want You to Get the Message: Colonoscopies Can Save Lives

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States.

Dr. Brian Swenson, a colorectal surgeon at Mercy Springfield says the best thing you can do to reduce your risk for colon cancer is to have a colonoscopy.  That allows doctors to find precancerous lesions or polyps that could turn into cancer and to remove them.

The hard part for many people, according to Dr. Swenson, is taking the step to make an appointment for a colonoscopy because of the fear it’s going to be unpleasant.  But he says it’s worth whatever discomfort the procedure might cause since it might prevent colon cancer, and, according to Dr. Swenson, it’s not that bad…

"Probably the best thing is talk to somebody who's already done it.  I think most people who have done it will look back retrospectively and say, 'you know, it wasn't necessarily the most pleasant, particularly the prep that you have to beforehand, but it's something that can be accomplished,''' he said.

He says the rewards, both in preventing cancer and having the reassurance that things are going well on the inside are often worth the small discomfort associated with the prep for the test.

Doctors recommend colonoscopies for everyone starting at age 50, and those with a family history of colon cancer should talk to their physician about being screened sooner.

Mercy will offer colon health education tomorrow (3/2) from 10 to 2 at Hy-Vee on W. Battlefield.  You can walk through the Early Detection and Prevention Inflatable Colon to learn about diseases such as Crohn’s(CROANS) and colitis (coh-LIGH-tis) and see what polyps and early and advanced colon cancer look like.  There will also be cooking demonstrations and educational booths. 

And CoxHealth Hulston Cancer Center will present the free event “Leave Embarrassment Behind:  Colorectal Cancer Awareness Event” March 9th from 11 to 1 at 3850 S. National.  Registration is needed.  For more information,