By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer
CLINTON — Of the cancers that target men and women equally, colorectal cancer is the second- leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Licensed practical nurse Jodi French, from the Mercy Medical Center Specialty Clinic, said it is also one of the most treatable cancers.
“If found early enough, it’s 100 percent preventable,” French said.
French and Kim Pennock, both from gastroenterologist Dr. Mohammed Irshad’s office, manned a table at Mercy Medical Center North on Friday to raise awareness for National Colorectoral Cancer Awareness Month. The table provided information on cancer of the colon and rectum, risk factors and procedures, such as colonoscopies. People stopping in the Mercy Medical Center North lobby could watch a video of the procedure and look at equipments used during a colonoscopy.
Irshad said that when it comes procedures designed to prevent cancer, colonoscopies really give the “most bang for the buck.” He explained the procedure has been shown to pick up colon polyps early on and significantly reduce the risk of a person developing colon cancer. French added that since polyps grow very slowly, they can be easily treated if caught early enough.
A typical person without any additional risk factors of colon cancer are encouraged to have his or her first colonoscopy at age 50. After a “clean” result, that person can wait 10 years before having another one. African American individuals are recommended to have a colonoscopy between ages 40 and 45.
Despite a link between the procedure and colorectal cancer prevention, French said many people put off their colonoscopies. She added that men in particular seem to avoid having the procedure.
“Men wait until it’s too late some time,” French said. “It’s embarrassing. People don’t want to talk about it.’
She said many are reluctant due to embarrassment, fear of what the procedure entails and the cost. While typically covered by insurance, colonoscopies can cost between $5,000 and $6,000. French will sometimes set up a person’s procedure and take his or her information over the phone to eliminate the cost of a hospital visit.