March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Not only is it important to get screened for colon cancer, it’s important to know your treatment options in the event of a cancer diagnosis. For more on this matter, we spoke with Dr. Matthew Wilson, colon and rectal surgeon with Utica Park Clinic.
“Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis in both men and women and the second most common cancer- related cause of death in both men and women,” stated Dr. Wilson. “With statistics like that, it’s obvious that this is an important subject matter. It’s not just the screenings that are important, it’s the treatment that comes along with a cancer diagnosis. A multi-disciplinary team is responsible for treating colon cancer, including surgeons, medical oncologists, gastroenterologists, and radial oncologists when rectal cancer is involved.”
When it comes to prevention, there are ways you can be proactive. “As far as preventative steps go, everyone needs to get screened at the appropriate age,” said Dr. Wilson. “If you have no other risk factors, age 50 is the age at which you need to schedule a colonoscopy. For African Americans, it’s age 45 because they have a slightly younger average age for diagnosis of colon cancer than other ethnicities. It’s also very important to know your family health history. If there’s a history of colon cancer or colon polyps, your initial screening age is earlier. Rather than age 50 it’s age 40, or 10 years prior to the age at which that family member was diagnosed.”
Another area of significance is knowing the distinction between colon and rectal cancer and the types of treatment that go along with both. “If the cancer is localized to the colon, by and large the first treatment is surgery,” Dr. Wilson stated. “If the cancer is metastatic (spreading to other parts of the body) at the time of diagnosis, systemic chemotherapy is needed first. When rectal cancer is part of the diagnosis, radiation is added into the mix along with the other treatment options. The combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment is all determined by the multi-disciplinary team working with you. They will know which treatments are appropriate at first rather than later.”
Above all, Dr. Wilson stresses the importance of screenings and knowing your treatment options. “Getting screened appropriately and knowing your treatment options in the event of diagnosis are the two most important factors in colon cancer awareness,” Dr. Wilson said. “Having that team of physicians that are knowledgeable in different specialties plays a huge part in the care and treatment of colon and rectal cancer.”
To schedule a screening without a provider referral, please call the Utica Park Clinic Colon Cancer Screening Center at 918-579-4044.