March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month - abc27 WHTM

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

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The American Cancer Society predicts that nearly 100,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year. Getting a colonoscopy can keep you from being another statistic, something a Midstate woman knows all too well.

Virginia Follett works at Good Samaritan Health System. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and friend.

"Yes, I have a very dear friend who was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer when she was 45 years old," Follett said.

Her friend survived, but her cancer could have been prevented with a colonoscopy.

That is why Follett decided to get one, and she invited us to tag along. The procedure took no more than an hour, and she was knocked out. When it was all said and done, Virginia said the procedure was not bad.

"I had no pain, no discomfort, it was very easy. It truly was," Follett said.

...Even though doctors found and removed six polyps from Follett's colon.

"No family history, no symptoms, nothing to lead me to believe I would have 6 polyps," Follett said.

Doctors said you do not want to wait until you have symptoms to get a colonoscopy.

"Cancer typically starts as a polyp. Therefore in this specific patient we decrease the risk of developing colon cancer," said Iryna Hepburn, MD.

Which was the case for Follett. Three of the polyps found inside her were possibly precancerous.

"The possibility that could've prevented colon cancer, I'd do it yearly if they told me," Follett said.

For most people, doctors suggest you get your first colonoscopy at age 50. Anyone with a family history should get one sooner. Your doctor will decide when.

"It's well worth it. It's your life," said Follett. "I have a 20-year-old son, and if you don't want to have a colonoscopy for yourself, if you're not concerned about your health and well-being, then think of your family, because there is strong hereditary component."

The most common symptoms of colon cancer are bloody stool, stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away, and unintended weight loss.

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