Early detection key in colon cancer fight

Published: Mar. 24, 2017 at 4:48 AM CDT
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Colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States. It is also one of the most treatable, if caught early.

Healthcare professionals are focusing attention on the disease during Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March.

The first step toward treating colon cancer is early detection. The Central Health District in Grand Island is among agencies making kits for detection available for free. Called fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), the tests are taken from samples collected at home and mailed back for testing. Other health agencies and hospitals throughout central Nebraska are offering free kits as well.

Also, colonoscopy surgery for anyone over 50 is recommended in the fight against colon cancer. Hastings surgeon Dr. Jerry Seiler says they look for potential cancer causing polyps during the simple procedure. He says he understands people being hesitant about having a colonoscopy as the prep work the day prior can be a little uncomfortable, but he adds progress has been made in that area as well.

If a person is diagnosed with colon cancer, treatment usually consists of surgery. Dr. Pornchai Jonglertham of the Morrison Cancer Center at Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings says if the cancer is contained to the colon, surgery is all the treatment a patient needs and the cure rate is high. If the cancer has spread to other areas, Dr. Jonglertham says chemotherapy and radiation treatments will likely be needed.

The doctor also points out that great progress has been made in the treating of colon cancer. The five year survival rate for colon cancer patients is over 90%.