Kathleen Byrd put off having a colonoscopy for a couple of years. The Pearland resident had just completed treatment for stage 3 breast cancer at age 50, so a colonoscopy wasn’t necessarily top of mind. At age 52, following the advice of her oncologist, she decided to undergo a colonoscopy which confirmed the unthinkable: she had colon cancer.
Thankfully, the stage 2 cancer was detected early enough that it had not spread beyond her colon. On Dec. 1, 2015, Byrd underwent surgery at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital to remove the fist-sized mass.
“I was very fortunate,” says Byrd. “Just six months prior to my colonoscopy I had a CT scan and the mass was undetected on that scan. The cancer was growing very fast.”
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends screening for colorectal cancer should begin at age 50.
Dr. Naveen Surapaneni, a gastroenterologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Pearland Hospital and Memorial Hermann Southeast, performed Byrd’s colonoscopy. “Even if you’re not showing any symptoms, it’s important to have a screening colonoscopy at age 50,” says Dr. Surapaneni. “Once symptoms are present that usually means the cancer is more advanced and thus more challenging to treat effectively.”
Symptoms of colorectal cancer can be one or more of the following: a change in bowel habits, not feeling relieved following a bowel movement, rectal bleeding with bright red blood, blood in the stool, cramping or abdominal pain, weakness and fatigue, or unintended weight loss.
A colonoscopy is considered the “gold standard” of colorectal cancer screening and is among the most frequently performed endoscopic procedures. A colonoscopy is performed as an outpatient procedure. Patients are typically given a sedative or light anesthetic leading up to the procedure itself which usually takes 30 minutes or less.
Screening colonoscopies are performed at Memorial Hermann Southeast and Memorial Hermann Pearland. For a physician referral for a colonoscopy, please call 713-222-CARE (2273).