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HEAL TH


Despite all of the news, one-third of Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 — the group at highest risk for colorectal cancer — have not been screened, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. My goal is for you to not be part of that one-third.


SHOULD I BE WORRIED ABOUT COLORECTAL CANCER?


Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States (excluding skin cancers). The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017 there will be 95,520 new cases of colon cancer and 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States for women and the second leading cause for men. It is expected to cause about 50,260 deaths during 2017.


So who is most at risk? Those who: • Are 50 or older • African-American • Have a personal or family history of polyps or colon cancer


• Have other intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis


• Are overweight • Have diabetes • Smoke or drink alcohol


THERE REALLY IS ONLY ONE WAY TO SCREEN FOR COLORECTAL CANCER


While people talk about other methods of screening for colorectal cancer, colonoscopies are the most complete screening method available because they allow the physician to find and remove polyps in one session. This is why it is called the “Gold Standard” for screening and why I use this method of screening for myself and my family. There is some bowel preparation the day before, but the procedure itself is painless, and takes about 1 hour if you include the admitting process, anesthesia, and the procedure itself. The other advantage is that it needs to be done less frequently than other methods. You should talk to your doctor about which test or combination of tests are right for you. Medicare and most private insurance plans cover the costs of colorectal screenings, but it’s always wise to check with your insurer to find out which test is covered.


ADVICE FROM SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN THERE


When the Alfred “Tucker” Spindle, a 69-year-old Tappahannock resident, Vietnam War veteran and prostate cancer survivor, noticed a little blood in his stool, he disregarded it. “I thought it might be a little strain, so I let it go,” Spindle


said. Two weeks later the blood returned. “I went to the Riverside Tappahannock Hospital immediately and had a colonoscopy done,” Spindle said.


The House & Home Magazine


He went in on a Tuesday for the procedure and was back the following week to get the results. When Dr. Wirt Cross, a general surgeon with Riverside


Surgical Specialists in Tappahannock, came in with his report “I knew something wasn’t right,” Spindle said. “I said, ‘doc, I know you have some bad news, so you might as well tell me and get it over with.’” “It’s bad, but it’s not so bad,” Spindle said Dr. Cross, also a


military veteran, told him. “We found some cancer, but the little bit you have, I can go in and cut out. You won’t need chemo. You won’t need radiation. We caught it early.” After five days in the hospital, and one month recovery at home, Spindle was back behind the wheel of his pallet delivery truck, on the open road where he loves to be. These days, Spindle is also back to encouraging people to pay attention to their health, to have their colonoscopies done and to call Riverside if they have questions. “Dr. Cross was a nice guy, really knows what he’s doing,” Spindle said. “Everyone at Riverside was that way. I’ve had people tell me lately that they hate doing this colonoscopy thing. I just tell them it’s nothing. Just do it. I’d do another colonoscopy tomorrow at Riverside if I needed to.”


To request an appointment, with any Riverside general surgeons, contact Riverside Surgical Specialists in Tappahannock: 804-443-6232. H


Michael Francis, MD, FACS


Join us for another educational event at RTH: Lights! Camera! Colonoscopies!


The Gold Standard of Screening, with Dr. Michael Francis on March 22 at 5:30pm. Registered dietitian Jacqueline Ambrose will also share advice on how you can reduce your cancer risk through changes in your diet. A light dinner will be provided. A walk-through colon exhibit will also be available so you can see the anatomy of the colon, polyps, and other features to better understand the screening process. RSVP with AnnMarie Simmons at 443-6203.


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