Retired Gastroentrologist, Dr. Sam Pace of Tupelo, has dedicated his life to preventing and treating colorectal cancer. The 64-year old has done about 20,000 colonoscopies. When he turned 50, he did what he tells his patients to do--he underwent the screening. There was no sign of cancer. Ten years later, another colonoscopy was done as recommended, and Dr. Pace was diagnosed with the disease.
" I have never had the first symptom. I've never had any abnormal blood work. I did not lose weight. My appetite was good. I had no pain. I had no change in bowel habits. I had no bleeding. I had no weakness. I just went in and had a colonoscopy done, because it had been ten years since I had the last one, and when I woke up from sedation I was shocked." said Dr. Pace.
A surgeon removed one-third of Dr. Pace's colon and his appendix. He was pronounced cancer free. Several years later, a blood test found the cancer had returned. He received chemotherapy treatments and is doing fine. Dr. Roy Duhe is the Associate Director of Cancer Education at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He says, colonoscopies allow doctors to see inside the intestines and remove polyps before they become cancerous.
"We want to make sure that people understand that by getting regular screening, that they can not only reduce the risk of dying from colorectal cancer, but they can actually reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer." said Dr. Duhe.
The incidence of colorectal cancer is higher among African Americans and doctors recommend screenings begin at age 45.