Teacher Touts the Value of Early Colon Cancer Screening - PIH Health

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Published on March 10, 2016

Teacher Touts the Value of Early Colon Cancer Screening

Colon screening patient

Colon screening patient with good outcomeWhen 48-year-old Spanish teacher David Hatori noticed some rectal bleeding, he did the right thing and scheduled an appointment with his primary care physician. She did a routine physical, including a rectal exam, but didn’t suspect anything serious. David’s blood tests came back normal, he was feeling no pain, and had no family history of colon cancer. To be safe, his physician provided a screening kit to see if there was blood in the stool. When it came back positive, David was referred to John Lah MD, a PIH Health gastrointestinal physician.

“He looked at my blood work and all the numbers looked good,” said David. “He said there was no reason to worry, but the best way to know for sure was to get a colonoscopy.”

Because David was busy with back-to-school activities, he opted to postpone the colonoscopy to see if things improved on their own. Plus, he had heard stories about preparing for the colonoscopy, which didn’t sound fun. But a few months later, when the bleeding persisted, he decided to proceed with the colonoscopy. It’s a good thing he did.

During the procedure, Dr. Lah found a large mass that wouldn’t have been found without an endoscopic procedure. Not only was it suspicious for cancer, it was also blocking half of David’s colon. Had David waited until he was 50 for the procedure, he may have experienced a full blockage.

When the lab results determined the polyp was pre-cancerous, David opted for surgery that would remove a section of his colon to eliminate the risk of cancer.

“This patient is 48-years-old, and wouldn’t have been due for a routine screening colonoscopy until age 50,” said Dr. Lah. “Fortunately, because he was vigilant, the outcome was favorable. Had David ignored his symptoms, he would have most likely developed cancer. If he delayed his colonoscopy too far beyond age 50, he could have possibly had very advanced colon cancer with very few options.

David’s story isn’t typical, since most patients won’t experience these types of problems so young. Yet, David’s experience reminds us all that it’s important to be vigilant about symptoms, and to not delay getting a potentially life-saving colonoscopy after turning 50.

Today, David is incredibly thankful for his positive prognosis—and his medical team.

“I have an unbelievingly good outlook, but I’m very glad I listened to my body and didn’t further delay getting a colonoscopy,” he said. “I now encourage all my friends to get this done and not put it off.”

If you’re over 50 or have a family history of colon cancer, call the PIH Health Colon Cancer Prevention Program at 562.945.4754 to schedule your colonoscopy today.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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