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Your colonoscopy questions, answered

Tom Hoehn and the Prevent Cancer Foundation | March 22, 2022

Tom Hoehn is the executive vice president of digital and social at 4media group, of which the Prevent Cancer Foundation is a client.

 

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year, over 151,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S. and nearly 53,000 will die of the disease.

Despite these statistics, colorectal cancer can, in many cases, be prevented or detected early—and survival rates are very high when the cancer is detected early and treated. We spoke to our Foundation friend Tom Hoehn, who recently underwent his routine colonoscopy. He’s here to remind you that if you’re age 45 or older, it’s time to get your colorectal cancer screening scheduled or Back on the Books!

 

Congratulations on your clean bill of health from your recent colonoscopy! Why is it important to get routine cancer screenings, such as a colonoscopy, back on the books?

I have learned that early detection is the best way to deal with cancer. What an unfortunate situation it would be if I contracted colorectal cancer and could have done something about it before it became serious!

Did the COVID-19 pandemic result in any of your appointments getting postponed or cancelled over the last two years?

I had my first colonoscopy when I turned 50 years old. I learned then that the recommended age had been changed to 45 in 2018*. Who knew? Well, I do know now, and I mention it to people that are in or are approaching that age range. When it came time for my next one, I made the appointment to stay on the recommended schedule. 

How did your doctor’s office make you and other patients feel safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic? 

The whole experience was amazingly efficient. The facility I used was well prepped for COVID-19 protocols with clear communications pre- and post-screening that were extremely simple to follow. They do dozens of procedures per day, and although I was unfamiliar with the steps involved, I felt that I was in capable hands given their robust experience. 

What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about cancer prevention and early detection?

I was unaware that colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women in the U.S. On the upside, if detected early, treatment options that are currently available can produce positive outcomes. It starts as small non-cancerous polyps, and if any are found during the procedure, they are remediated right there—zap. I had a few of them and the operative word there is “had.” Buh-bye, polyps!

What would you like to say to anyone out there hesitant to schedule their colonoscopy?

If you are reticent to get a screening, do not fear; it was no big deal. Although the advance prep isn’t the most fun thing to do, it pales in comparison to what could be in store for you if don’t you get screened and cancer has time to develop. If not for yourself, get a screening for your loved ones, and please encourage others to take care of themselves as well. As for me, I am officially back on the books!

Did a routine cancer screening save your life? We want to hear about how getting your appointment Back on the Books helped you take charge of your health! Share your story with us.

*The American Cancer Society has changed their screening guidelines in 2018 to lower the recommended colorectal cancer screening ago for those at average risk from 50 to 45. In 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) followed suit and changed their screening guidelines to 45, ensuring coverage of screenings for many 45-49-year-olds.

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