Lake Charles Memorial Hospital draws attention to colorectal cancer

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 7:44 AM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - “Strollin’ Through the Colon,” an event at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital that was dedicated to educating Lake Area residents during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Dr. Fontenot, a gastroenterologist at Memorial, is stressing the importance of screening for colon cancer, and the cancer itself.

“A month that we try to bring more awareness to colon cancer, which has a tendency historically to be not as well-known as some of the other forms of common cancer such as breast cancer or prostate cancer,” said Dr. Fontenot.

They’re raising awareness during colorectal cancer month in a unique way, with a giant inflatable colon.

“Colon cancer has a tendency to present with virtually no symptoms at first, and that’s something that’s kinda hard to wrap your head around at first, like how can I have cancer and not have any symptoms from it?,” said Dr. Fontenot.

“Well, the colon is a pretty big organ so it can hide things pretty well.”

Dr. Fotenot says that’s where screening comes in.

“The perfect time to have a colonoscopy is when you have no symptoms because you’re more likely to either have a polyp, that’s able to be removed at the time of the procedure, and that could prevent the onset of cancer in the first place by having that polyp removed, or if you do have cancer we’re hoping to find it at a very early stage where it’s curable.”

Dr. Fontenot says the risk of developing colon cancer is 1 in 20, and they’re seeing an increase in early-onset colon cancer.

“It’s important to know that so you don’t think that just because you’re only 20 or 30 years old, there’s no way that you could have colon cancer. Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more cases of that.”

He says his best advice is to take symptoms seriously.

“If something doesn’t seem right to them and they feel blown off or told “oh, that’s just irritable bowel syndrome” or “oh it’s just hemorrhoids.” Keep pushing, keep getting answers,” said Dr. Fontenot.

“A lot of times we’ll see patients getting to us too late because important symptoms were minimized at first.”

While symptoms don’t always present, Dr. Fontenot says these are some signs to watch out for.

“Blood in the stool, having changes in the bowel pattern, going from regular stools to have more or less, either way,” said Dr. Fontenot.

He also says people diagnosed as anemic should keep a cautious eye out, and be wary of abdominal pain.

“Not just like a stomach cramp that gets bad after you eat something that disagrees with you. But abdominal pain that’s not getting better.”

Dr. Fontenot says if you are 45 and older, or have a history of colorectal cancer in your family, you should talk to your doctor about scheduling a screening.

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