A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Colonoscopy proves early detection key for patient’s survival

Colon cancer survivor with blue ribbonLake Hallie resident Kathy Grant knew something wasn’t right after experiencing several GI symptoms. Given her age, 66, she wanted a colonoscopy.

It wasn’t a moment too soon for Grant, a Marshfield Clinic patient for more than a decade – she had Stage 3 colon cancer. Grant completed chemotherapy in early May and is cancer-free. Her focus now is healing, staying healthy and enjoying life.

“If I never had the colonoscopy, I wouldn’t have known I had cancer,” said Grant, now an advocate for colonoscopies. “The colonoscopy saved my life.”

Early detection, colonoscopy was key

Dr. Pat Tanawattanacharoen, Grant’s oncologist at Eau Claire Regional Cancer Center, was impressed by her attitude throughout treatment.

“She was very upbeat and always stayed positive about her medical situation,” Tanawattanacharoen said. “She got help at the right time so she had her cancer detected early and received treatment. Early detection is the key to increasing the odds of survival.”

Important colonoscopy tips:

  • Everyone over the age of 50 should have a colonoscopy.
  • If a colonoscopy is done as part of an age 50-plus screening, it’s likely covered by insurance at no cost to the patient.
  • Colorectal cancer kills more people than any cancer except lung cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
  • Detected early, up to 90 percent of colorectal deaths can be prevented, according to the American Cancer Society.

Tanawattanacharoen recommended people with family history of colorectal cancer or anyone experiencing symptoms should talk to their provider about possibly having a colonoscopy sooner.

If the cancer is not detected early, the cancer can spread to the lymph nodes or nearby organs.

“Getting in, having that early detection and starting treatment is critical,” Tanawattanacharoen said. “We’ve had many patients who go on to have normal, healthy lives after receiving treatment for colorectal cancer.”

Want to learn more about colonoscopies? Marshfield Clinic providers answer common questions in this video.

“If even one person has cancer detected early from a colonoscopy after hearing my story, then this effort was worth it,” Grant said. “A colonoscopy saved my life and it might save yours or someone you love next.”

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