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Old 07-12-08, 07:32 AM   #1
Kurt Erlenbach
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Tony Snow, and colonoscopy evangelism

Today's death of Tony Snow, Pres. Bush's former press secretary and Fox News commentator, is sobering. He was 53 and died of colon cancer, which he had fought the last several years. He had a couple of young children.

Because we discuss it here with some frequency, we know the value of a colonoscopy in preventing colon cancer. During a colonoscopy, the doctor can remove pre-cancerous polyps which will prevent the disease. Almost all colon cancer is preventable - no polyps, no cancers. Everyone over 50 should have a colonoscopy, like it or not.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men, after lung cancer, and the third leading cause of death for women, after lung and breast cancers. About 10% of all cancer deaths are the result of colon cancer, and almost all of them are avoidable.

Lack of physical activity is one of the strongest risk factors for colon cancer, so I suspect that participants in this forum are less likely to come down with it than average. Because we've talked about this before, I know many of you have had your test, and I don't want to preach to the choir, but I want to propose something else. Make it a point this month to convince five people to get the test. Become a colonoscopy evangelist. Bring it up in conversation with friends and coworkers and push them to get tested. It's not the most pleasant topic, and not the most pleasant test, but too many people avoid it because they think it is worse than it really is. Take it from me - colon cancer is a worthless way to die.

More info here, here, and here.
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Old 07-12-08, 11:17 AM   #2
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I wholeheartedly agree - I had a colonscopy 3 years ago and I plan to have one every 10 years on the doctor's recommendation. My wife had on 2 years ago. Both of the results were a clean bill of health.

I have talked to a number of co-workers on the necessity to have a colonscopy performed along with a prostate exam. Unfortunately the male macho personality kicked in and all I got was a "it can't happen to me" comment. I will keep trying.
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Old 07-12-08, 11:54 AM   #3
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... and all I got was a "it can't happen to me" comment. I will keep trying.
Precisely my attitude until it happened to me at age 47. Use Snow's death at a young age as a wedge to get your friends moving.
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Old 07-12-08, 11:59 AM   #4
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My nephew died at 49 after battling colon cancer for nine years. GET THAT TEST...
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Old 07-12-08, 12:00 PM   #5
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Kerlenbach, if you got it at 47 and Snow died at 53 after fighting it for several years, is 50 really soon enough?
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Old 07-12-08, 12:37 PM   #6
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Kerlenbach, did you have to have any colon removed?
My grandfather had colon cancer many years ago and had a small section removed. He lived into his 90's with no recurrence and died a very smart, clear minded, happy man whose son (my dad) raised 10 boys and three girls.
My mother and father both died of cancer but not colon cancer. So sad.

I am so happy for you that you caught it. Most of my older brothers and sisters have had a colonoscopy and all were O.K. but I have not yet had one.
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Old 07-12-08, 12:40 PM   #7
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As far as getting your first test at age 50, it depends on family history. I got my first one at around 42 years old.

I am now on a three year schedule, due to having polyps removed last time. I turn 52 next week.

I wonder if colon cancer is number two for non-smokers. It might well be number one in that case...
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Old 07-12-08, 08:19 PM   #8
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I go regularly because I'm prone to grow polyps. Every two years I seem to have grown a new one.
I'm due again in September.
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Old 07-12-08, 08:26 PM   #9
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I am now on a three year schedule, due to having polyps removed last time.
Yeah, me too.

If you haven't had one, the actual test was no big deal. Since I ride a trike I could even ride afterwards.
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Old 07-12-08, 08:38 PM   #10
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+1 Test is no big deal, or even a small deal, it is really nothing.
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Old 07-12-08, 08:55 PM   #11
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Well its something. they stick insert that thing going the wrong way on a one way street Seriously I didn't like it at all the stories my co-workers said about not feeling a thing and not remembering was a lie. Pain killers and happy drugs don't work well on me so I did feel some discomfort but it wasn't agony and it didn't kill me and the alternative is worse. I can thank my sister for alerting me to the fact that when she had it done they found several polyps and that it is hereditary so I went. One polyp, the doc said see ya in about 5 years. Put all the macho stuff aside it can happen to you and it does or else nobody would die from this stuff which like other posters said is so preventable with early detection.
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Old 07-12-08, 09:27 PM   #12
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FWIW, My doc advises to not be sucked in by TV commercials about products that prevent polyps from forming. They're a scam, he says. I tend to believe him.
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Old 07-12-08, 09:43 PM   #13
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Sad to learn about Tony Snow. The CNN article said his colon was removed after his original diagnosis. His entire colon??? Gosh, how often is that necessary, and in such a young person. Makes me wonder if there were symptoms that he ignored.

A local long-time news anchor died of colon cancer last year. It stunned viewers as he was beloved by many. He was not sick long, just a few weeks, before he died. I couldn't help but think - if only he'd had a colonoscopy.

To those who haven't done it yet -- just do it!! It's not that bad. Even the prep wasn't that bad. I recommend doing that on a day off so you can just hang around the house. I say that because a friend told me that she'll do the prep after work next time instead of taking a day off. I'm having trouble imagining going through an entire day at work without eating, then doing the prep after I get home from work and hoping and praying I'll be sufficiently cleaned out so I can get a decent night's sleep.
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Old 07-12-08, 09:51 PM   #14
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I've had regular physicals, have had regular check-ups with my doctor, have had some problems treated, had X-rays & prostate checks. Have had three stress tests. But cannot remember ever having a colonoscopy. Also cannot my doctor ever recommending it.
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Old 07-12-08, 10:00 PM   #15
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Pain killers and happy drugs don't work well on me so I did feel some discomfort but it wasn't agony and it didn't kill me and the alternative is worse.
The drugs they gave me the first time made me very agitated and aggressive, according to the doc. Now, I get the good kind that put me totally out (I require an anesthesiologist), but I don't feel anything.

I just had my the 4th colonoscopy in 8 years (I was on the two year plan), as I grew the bad kind of polyp, but this last time I had one of the good polyps, so I go back in 5 years .

One thing my doc told me was to tell my kids to get tested in their early 30's. He suggested that recurring polyp growth may be hereditary, so my kids have been warned and understand the importance of testing.

Oh yea - both of my doctors suggested high doses of vitamin D-3 and calcium as a preventative measure for the development of colon cancer. Asprin, they suggest, does not help prevent cancer, but may lead to early detection of problems as the polyps/tumors may bleed earlier due to the effects of the asprin.
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Old 07-12-08, 10:05 PM   #16
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+1 Test is no big deal, or even a small deal, it is really nothing.
While I understand the importance of the test, having something go five or six feet up there, is something!
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Old 07-12-08, 10:12 PM   #17
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But cannot remember ever having a colonoscopy. Also cannot my doctor ever recommending it.
Then why not call your Doc and see if you can get one. The sooner, the better.

I have had two, first one found a polyp, the second one was clear.

Lost my Dad to cancer 23 years ago, not colon. My Mom had breast cancer 6 years ago and is going strong at 84.

Don't delay. The hardest part is the prep. The actual exam can be a breeze and a great nap.
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Old 07-13-08, 01:00 AM   #18
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So, did Tony Snow's cancer result from his failure to get regular colonoscopies? Or did he die because his was aggressive and recurring? They took part (all) of his colon the first time around, and I'm guessing that he got quite regular checkups after that.

I'm not arguing that regular testing isn't necessary, but am not certain about the claim that the disease can be prevented through regular testing. I just lost my brother-in-law to cancer (not colon), and, as I sit here trying to make sense of it all (I cannot), I have to conclude that your time is your time.

He did not abuse his body, but died anyway.

Just another viewpoint.

Caruso
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Old 07-13-08, 03:46 AM   #19
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I've had 6 colonoscopies in the last 11 years, due for one again now. My dad had colon cancer at 39, his sister and brother both had it as well. After each procedure, until dad passed last year, I'd call him up just to tell him "Got a sore butt dad, thanks for the genes!"
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Old 07-13-08, 06:52 AM   #20
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The drugs they gave me the first time made me very agitated and aggressive, according to the doc. Now, I get the good kind that put me totally out (I require an anesthesiologist), but I don't feel anything.
It is fairly routine to give patients injectable anesthesia that puts them in a deep sleep, for lack of better terminology. It's a fast acting preparation that goes in your IV. You're only out a few minutes, and are pretty lucid by the time you go home---more lucid than with out-patient surgery. All gastroenterologists can do this, and why they wouldn't offer is a mystery to me. I didn't think that the procedure was done in-office.

If any of you have any fear about the procedure, ask the gastroenterologist about anesthesia. I'm 57, and had my baseline at 35, and had one every few years since. I actually don't like the new 10 year recommendations, and think it's more about insurance than medicine. As I gather, this is a fast moving cancer. I like every 3-5 years, but I don't have money to force doctors to give me the best medicine.

Some people have mentioned pain??? I have never had any, and was not aware this is usual.
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Old 07-13-08, 06:56 AM   #21
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Devil's in the Details

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While I understand the importance of the test, having something go five or six feet up there, is something!
Hmmm. Going six feet under is the big deal we're trying to avoid.
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Old 07-13-08, 07:10 AM   #22
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If you don't remember ever having one, and your doctor has not recommended one, and you are 50 or over, get a new doctor.

As far as any discomfort, I do not remember either of my tests. They gave me enough anesthetic to put me in what they call twilight. You are not asleep, but you are not wide awake either.

On the first one, I asked the doctor when he was going to start, and he told me he was already done...

Get the pills for the prep, rather than drinking endless amounts of liquid. That would be my only caution.

As far as fate and your time being up, so many cancers are now treatable if caught early. With my family history (all cancer), I would rather catch it early and deal with it, than let it advance and have it deal with me...
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Old 07-13-08, 07:38 AM   #23
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I watched the video while they were doing mine....it wasn't that uncomfortable, especially after the drugs. It was pretty cool, though.
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Old 07-13-08, 07:41 AM   #24
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Caruso - Snow might have had a type that was not preventable by colonscopy. His mother died from colon cancer, and i understand he had colitis or other serious colon trouble before his diagnosis. There is a rare type of colon cancer that is genetic, but most of the time removing polyps will prevent it.

Insurance usually won't cover a colonscopy until you hit 50. I recommend inventing symptoms and asking your docotr to prescribe one if you're under 50. I was diagnosed at a physical for my 47th birthday, and probably had a polyp since about age 42 or 43. I lost most of the descending colon and rectum, and then about a third of my liver in ensuing surgeries. Next week will mark two years since the end of the second time through chemo.
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Old 07-13-08, 08:33 AM   #25
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Insurance usually won't cover a colonscopy until you hit 50. I recommend inventing symptoms and asking your doctor to prescribe one if you're under 50.
I suspect insurance is more likely to cover it if you have a family history (and/or an insistent doctor). I have multiple colon cancer deaths on my mother's side, and have been getting colonoscopies since I was 40; there are polyps about 1/2 the time, and so I'm usually on a 2-3 year schedule (and, dang, this is the year)
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