Health expert speaks on Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 10:45 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 23 men and 1 in 25 women are at risk for developing colorectal cancer in their lifetime. Dr. James C. Hobley, Gastroenterologist, Gastrointestinal Specialists A.M.C., explained warning signs for if you have the disease.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month(KSLA)

“The signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer would include some of the more common things known, such as weight loss, blood in your stool. Abdominal pain, changes in the way your bowel habits are from either constipation to loser stool or even vice versa. Smaller, caliber stools, some people would describe it as looking like worms. Things like that are changes that really should be alarming to the patient,” he said.

Hobley said there are some groups who are at higher risk of obtaining colorectal cancer than others.

“When it comes down to colon cancer and people actually obtaining that disease, men tend to be at higher risk than women. The minority population in particular, African Americans and also Latino Americans, are at higher risk of colon cancer, but also there’s a group that tends to go forgotten and that’s the rural population. That population in our country that don’t have access to the healthcare that most of us enjoy,” said Hobley.

While there’s not a specific cause for colorectal cancer, Hobley said there’s a number of things that can increase your risk of getting the disease.

“There’s the genetic component, but the other causes of colon cancer have to do with environmental factors. So, dietary things also your lifestyle, when you’re not exercising, obesity, diabetes; these things all increase the risk of colon cancer,” he said.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month(KSLA)

Hobley explained the treatment for colorectal cancer, along with survival rates.

“If you find it at stage one, more than likely they’ll be a surgical procedure and you may not need chemotherapy or radiation therapy. If you find it in stage two or three, typically it’s surgery and chemotherapy. With those surgeries most of the time, you’re able to be done and you won’t have to have any external bag or anything like that they can connect you back together. Obviously, stage four in any cancer is really tough, and odds are not the most in your favor but we have made great advancements. I’ve seen people with stage four disease live way beyond expectations,” said Hobley.

With the technology the world has today, he said it’s possible to avoid getting the disease altogether.

“True screening has to do with finding something at an early, or really we call it a precancerous stage and removing that risk off the table. So, now you literally are protected from that disease. That’s true screening. Colonoscopy gives you that opportunity, we find a polyp that’s precancerous and remove it. You are protected from colon cancer,” said Hobley.

He said another key to prevention is knowing your background.

“Forty-five is when we recommend people begin colon cancer screening if you have no family history and no warning signs. We need to know who you are and you need to get screened earlier. We can still catch this early and still prevent it, but it’s going to cause the clock to wind back many years. So, it’s not going to be 45 for you, it may be 45. Maybe in your 20s, it depends on the family history.”

Hobley said his practice will soon have a program to address the needs of underserved communities.

“One of the things I’m most proud about in this practice is that we are able to serve our community and one of the things we are about to start doing, really this month is opening the opportunity to reach that population of people who tend to go forgotten. So, the underserved, MediCaid, uninsured population. We now have a mechanism of providing screening and gastrointestinal care for them through a new organization called Care South. Through Care South, patients will be able to schedule appointments or see a doctor or provider within 48 hours. Another way of getting access to people that tend to not have as much access,” he said.

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