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Thursday, March 22, 2018 - Stop colon cancer in its tracks: Get checked this Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


“Colorectal cancer is an awful disease – but the silver lining is, screening tools exist that can prevent a cancer from ever forming.”

That’s the view of Lakeview Hospital surgeon Eric Saterbak, MD, who is urging people to get checked this Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Colon cancer is highly treatable if discovered early. In fact, small polyps in a person’s colon can turn cancerous over a period of 10 to 15 years – which means they can be detected and removed during a colonoscopy before they have the chance to turn into cancer.

And while the colonoscopy remains the gold standard for screening, says Dr. Saterbak, it’s by no means the only option.

“Though I always recommend colonoscopy as the best tool, most doctors would agree – any form of screening is better than none at all,” said Dr. Saterbak. “Other common, non-intrusive tests include the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or the stool DNA test such as Cologuard®.”

The American Cancer Society recommends people to get their first colonoscopy at age 50, if they’re at average risk of developing colon cancer.

Nancy Andersen, a Somerset Elementary School teacher of 24 years, had not yet reached that milestone birthday when she started to feel things were just not right.

In November 2017, she went to see her family medicine doctor, who listened to her concerns, family history and symptoms. Nancy learned she’d need a colonoscopy. The procedure confirmed: Nancy had a large, cancerous mass on her colon.

Less than a week later, Nancy had surgery at Lakeview’s sister hospital, Westfields Hospital & Clinic, to remove the mass. Before she even left Westfields, five days later, she got the great news that the surgery had been completely successful; she was cancer-free.

“It feels good to wake up and feel good again,” said Nancy. “Going through this, I think it makes you celebrate life and look at the positive. It’s a new perspective if you have a bad day.”

All four HealthPartners hospitals in the St. Croix Valley – Lakeview Hospital, Hudson Hospital & Clinic, Westfields Hospital & Clinic and Amery Hospital & Clinic – have illuminated their exteriors in blue throughout March, to get people thinking about colon health and scheduling a preventative screening.

Nancy now talks with colleagues, friends and family about the importance of listening to your body and going for regular screenings.

And Dr. Saterbak agrees. “Colon cancer screenings save lives and help reduce the incidence of colon cancer.”

Call 651-439-1234 to get a referral for a colonoscopy or to make an appointment to talk about other screening options.


Somerset Elementary School teacher Nancy Andersen.
 
Lakeview Hospital is lighting up blue in March for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.