COLORADO SPRINGS — In this Your Healthy Family, we’re highlighting the importance of having an annual colon cancer screening when you fall in the recommended guidelines. It’s so important that on Saturday March 19th, 2022 at Gastroenterology Associates of Colorado Springs (GACS), the staff volunteered their time and hosted a day of free colonoscopies for people who struggle with having insurance coverage.
These annual free cancer screening days at GACS since 2021. Dr. Thomas Meister, MD with GACS says, “We feel the need to give back to the community that has been so good to everybody here at our practice. Health care has gaps, and we want to help fill those gaps for our community. Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in this country.”
During the pandemic rates of important and life saving cancer screenings across the board fell in the United States and as we continue to see a return to normal, resuming cancer screenings are something we all need to be mindful of, especially colon cancer.
Katie Hachuela, a nurse practitioner with GACS explains, “The guidelines for colon cancer screening have changed. It used to start at 50 years old, and now it’s 45 or even sooner depending on family history or your specific set of symptoms you may have.”
Katie there are a few warning signs that should prompt you to be seen by a doctor immediately. “I’ve had people who don’t have any symptoms with colon cancer. That’s why you really want to have the screening when appropriate. later stages of colon cancer could be pain, rectal bleeding is always a red flag and weight loss so you want to be on the lookout for those. Again, there are many people that do have colon cancer and they’re not having any symptoms.”
Other symptoms to be aware of are a persistent change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool. Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain and a feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely.
Katie says, “Colon cancer is preventable and the goal of the colonoscopy is to look for pre-cancerous growths and they’re easily removed. The screening is really a good tool to prevent colon cancer because once it’s progressed if you’ve been waiting a long time or you’re scared to have a colonoscopy – the treatments, lifestyle of all of the different things that go along with cancer are really sad, because it could’ve been prevented.”
As far as being fearful of a procedure that is fairly invasive – it’s important to remember the miracle that is anesthesia. Katie says, “The prep for the procedure is really the worst part. In our endoscopy center we work to make it a pleasant experience because no one wants to have this done. It’s kind of like a spa experience in terms of the environment and how the staff works to make you feel at ease, so think about getting that colonoscopy if you are due for one.”
If you have any questions about if it’s time for you to have a colonoscopy have a conversation with your doctor, or feel free to contact the staff at GACS at 719-632-7101, or you can learn more by visiting their website HERE (https://www.gacsonline.com/)
GACS is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family