Cancer survivor advocates for colonoscopies

Mary K. Taylor
Mary K. Taylor

Colon cancer is the fourth most-common cancer among adults, and it's also one of the deadliest.

"The high death rate is because of a failure to diagnose it early enough," said gastroenterologist Dr. Greg Gaspard.  "A lot of times colon cancer won't actually be diagnosed until it causes symptoms and in a lot of people once symptoms develop, it's already spread to the liver or to other areas."

However, it can be easily prevented with some proactive screening.

Take Mary K. Taylor: she noticed that something was off in her internal rhythm, and went to the doctor to get checked out.  A colonoscopy revealed that she was in the first stages of colon cancer.

"By coming early like that, they were able to find it and take care of it," said Taylor. "It saved my life probably."

That was four years ago.  Now, Taylor is cancer free and spreading the word about colon cancer awareness.  She's also advocating that everyone get a colonoscopies.

"You come in and you think it's going to be a lot more and it's really not because by the time you say "hello" to the nurse you go in there and you take a very short little sleep and it's over with," said Taylor.

Doctors say the prep can actually be worse than the procedure, but there is good news.  Gone is the whole gallon of liquid you have to drink the night before. Now, patients can drink two smaller portions: one the night before and one the day of the procedure.

"Some people are worried about complications with the procedure and there are some complications with a colonoscopy but complications are very rare," said Gaspard.

Doctors recommend that most people begin colonoscopy screenings at age 50.  If you have a family history, or a medical condition that puts you at more risk, it is recommended you being screenings earlier at age 45.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

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