Letter: Colonoscopies save lives

To the Editor:

Imagine a disease that ranks as the third leading cause of cancer death but that can be prevented in 70 percent of cases with a simple screening. The disease is colorectal cancer, and the screening is a colonoscopy.

Nationwide and here in our community, colorectal cancer disrupts and ends more lives than necessary. During the month of March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, my team at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and I are working hard to raise awareness and to encourage anyone over 50 to ask their doctor about getting a colonoscopy. The test is amazingly effective and readily available.

Early stage colon cancer doesn't usually cause symptoms. By the time you realize something is wrong, the cancer may be advanced. By getting a colonoscopy, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called polyps) before they become cancer or catch colon cancer in its most treatable stage. It is truly a lifesaver.

As a member of this community and a nurse, I would like to encourage my friends and neighbors to get screened. Once you turn 50, talk to your doctor about getting a colonoscopy. Talk to your doctor sooner if you have a family history of the disease or another condition that puts you at risk. With a regular colonoscopy, colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable.

Tanya Cowder, RN, MSN

Director of Endoscopy & Gastroenterology

Southwestern Vermont Health Care



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