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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

By Maggie Wilcox, OMC Media Intern

Cancer is a very real and growing problem in our society. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 134,000 cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. Colorectal cancer is defined as a cancer that starts in the large intestine or the rectum. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths, one in 19 people will contract it during their lifetime. It’s especially dangerous because in its early stages, Colorectal (Colon) cancer doesn’t normally have noticeable symptoms.

That’s why it’s so important to get a baseline screening colonoscopy at age 50, when it’s easier to treat and cure. It’s especially important to have regular checkups if there is a family history involving past endometrial, breast, ovarian, colon, or rectal cancer; Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis; or a history of colon polyps.

In addition, any time there is blood in the stool, an appointment should be made with a healthcare provider immediately.

The most common symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • Changes in bowel movements, including constipation or diarrhea that won’t go away
  • Feeling like you can’t empty your bowels completely or urgently need to have a bowel movement
  • Bleeding or cramping in your rectum
  • Dark patches of blood in or on your stool; or long, thin, “pencil stools”
  • Discomfort or bloating in your belly
  • Unexplained fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss
  • Pelvic pain, which can happen in the later stages of the disease

Many well-known celebrities have been diagnosed with colon cancer including Sam Simon, Sharon Osbourne, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Darryl Strawberry, Carmen Marc Valvo, Vince Lombardi, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Audrey Hepburn, and Eartha Kitt.

Ozarks Medical Center has three board certified physicians who perform colonoscopies, Dr. Christopher Cochran, Dr. Magdy Giurgius, and Dr. Antony Joseph. For more information about scheduling a colonoscopy, call OMC Internal Medicine Clinic (Dr. Cochran) at 417-257-5989 or OMC Surgical Specialist Clinic (Dr. Giurgius and Dr. Joseph) at 417-256-1774.

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