Port Charlotte hospital reinforces importance of getting tested for colorectal cancer
Bayfront Health Port Charlotte is working to get more people tested for colorectal cancer — the second leading cause of cancer related death in the United States when men and women are combined.
Jo Misheck is in her 80s and is just beginning her battle against colorectal cancer.
“Oh, my God. I welled up. I just never thought I would be a candidate,” she said.
Misheck said she was screened five years ago and doctors told her she would never have to be screened again. But she soon started having symptoms like abdominal pain and constipation.
“I can’t believe it. I just don’t know how this happens? What causes it?” she said.
Now, Bayfront Health Port Charlotte is working to make sure 80 percent of adults over 50 years of age in the surrounding area get screened.
“The first question I would ask you is if there is any history in your family? Do you have any rectal bleeding? Any constipation?” Dr. Domingo Galliano said.
If hospitals can achieve an 80 percent screening rate by this year, more than 200,000 colorectal cancer deaths would be prevented by 2030, according to the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable.
Currently, the screening rate at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte is at about 50 percent.
Why should younger generations get screened too?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting screened for colon cancer starting at age 50.
But doctors recently discovered polyps, a precursor to cancer, in the colon of 22-year-old Alexis Sears, who is being treated at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte.
“That was a big part of the shock to me as well, just kind of comprehending how young I am,” Sears said.
Sears, who had to have her colon removed because of all the polyps, wants young people to pay attention to their health too.
“I had no feasible thought in my head that I could have polyps,” Sears said.
It takes about five years for polyps to develop inside a colon, and another five years for it to develop into cancer.
Galliano, who has operated on hundreds of patients facing the same future as Sears, said if you can catch it in the early stages then curability is around 90 percent.
“If you feel like something’s wrong, you should definitely go see your doctor about it,” Sears said.
Getting screened for colon cancer
Linda Markley, owner of Any Lab Test Now in Fort Myers, offers a test she hopes will help prevent colon cancer.
The test, which is cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, involves two stool samples and is less invasive than a traditional colonoscopy. It has been used as a starting point for doctors for more than a decade.
“It’ll give you that indication that maybe you should go get a colonoscopy done,” Markley said.
Paul Koester, a medical assistant at Any Lab Test Now, has a family history of colon cancer and is prepared to take the test.
“It’s on my to-do list this year,” Koester said.
Koester and Markley hope this test, which can be taken more than once and at any age, helps others get some potentially life-saving news.
“Today, to be able to get this done, is nothing compared to the cost of chemotherapy tomorrow,” Markley said.
The test, which is not covered by insurance, will cost about $80 during the month of March for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
For more information about Any Lab Test Now, click here.