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Detecting the Preventable Colon Cancer

Publication: KENS5 (CBS, San Antonio)

SAN ANTONIO — Whenever a celebrity dies from a disease that can be prevented, interest in how to protect yourself from that disease goes up significantly. That was certainly the case when Chadwich Boseman from the movie Black Panther died from colon cancer just two weeks ago. 

The American Cancer Society says their website saw an 8,000 percent increase in traffic in the few days after Boseman died. Now they're trying to turn that promising life lost, into many lives saved.

"When my doctor told me I said all right Jesus what are we going to do, and I just went from there," said Twyla Varnado who found out she had colon cancer seven years ago.

She had surgery to remove it but that was just the beginning. Varnado told us, "It took out the cancer cells that were in the colon but I didn't know that it also had already moved to my liver."

Brano Djenic, M.D., colorectal surgeon, Texas Oncology Surgical Specialists, said, "Not all cancers can be screened for so that's a benefit we have in colorectal cancers."

Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death among men and women combined in the U.S. This year there will be close to 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed. That's enough to fill two Alamodomes. With screenings 60% of colorectal cancer deaths would be prevented. Dr. Djenic added, "It's a 30 minute exam that will check your colon. They can treat something small and simple and keep it from progressing."

Varnado became cancer free in June of 2014, and is now helping others navigate the illness with the help of Relay For Life. Varnado said, "I started making sure my team raised money so we could start paying for rides for them to go get wigs, for them to have someone sit with them while they go through chemo."

But she says to avoid even having to navigate the disease like she did, get your colonoscopy done.

The American Cancer Society recently lowered their age for your first colorectal screening to 45, but if you have an immediate family start at age 40 or 10 years before the diagnosis of their relative, which ever comes first.

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