Early detection is key in finding colon cancer

March 27, 2014 at 5:01 p.m.
Updated March 26, 2014 at 10:27 p.m.

Editor, the Advocate:

About 1 in 20 people in the United States will develop colon cancer during his or her lifetime. In Texas, the annual incidence of colon cancer is 40 per 100,000 people. These are alarming statistics. However, if everyone was tested as recommended more lives could be saved.

As a physician pathologist and the daughter of a colorectal cancer survivor, I know first-hand the value of early detection in colon cancer. In my practice that specializes in pathology and laboratory medicine, I use a microscope to examine cells and tissues to diagnose colon cancer and other diseases. I've seen that regular screening is the best way to find colon cancer early. When detected early, colon cancer is highly treatable; survival rates can be high as 90 percent.

Several tests can be used to screen for pre-cancerous polyps and colon cancer: the fecal occult blood test, flexible sigmoidoscopy; and colonoscopy. All three are widely used and available to patients.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. If you're between 50 and 75 years of age, it's an ideal time to speak with your physician about the screening test that is right for you. If you have a family history of the disease, you'll want to speak with your physician as soon as possible. Please encourage your friends and family members to get screened if they haven't. Acting now could save your life or the life of someone you love.

Dr. C. Leilani Valdes, FCAP, Regional Medical Laboratory, Victoria



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