A local radiation oncologist explains the importance of colon cancer screening

A local medical professional breaks down the importance of colon cancer screenings.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 11:13 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - For colorectal cancer awareness month, some locals took a stroll through an inflatable colon at WVU Medicine Camden Clark. Staff and healthcare providers were there to share information and answer questions. It’s all an effort to raise awareness for colon cancer screening.

WTAP spoke with local Radiation Oncologist Jeff Ryckman to learn about the importance of screening.

According to the CDC, colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Ryckman said, when it comes to screening, timing is of the essence.

“That’s what it’s all about - is getting it early enough so that we can offer the minimum level of treatment. Treatments can be quite intensive if you wait too long and, by the time you have symptoms, a lot of times it’s too late.”

Ryckman said the recommended age to get screened has been lowered to 45. However, some people might want to get tested earlier.

“If you have an extensive family history of folks in your family with cancer, make sure to check with your primary care provider and ask them whether or not you might qualify for genetic testing or earlier screening than the age of 45,” Ryckman said.

When you get screened, Ryckman said the colonoscopy is the golden standard.

“Unfortunately the noninvasive tests do not have as much evidence as what I refer to as ‘the big dig’ so it’s really important to get all your pipes checked.”

Keep your eye out for bleeding from your backside. Ryckman said this is a symptom associated with earlier detection.

“..., it could be something as simple as hemorrhoids but really the best way to go and the gold standard is the colonoscopy.”