After close call, former doctor’s message is clear: ‘Please get your colonoscopy done!’

Doctors say risk factors for colon cancer include family history, poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol use.
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 11:34 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Having spent years as a doctor of internal medicine, at 50 years old, Thomas Seastrunk knew it was probably time to get a colonoscopy.

”I said, ‘OK, let’s go get it done because I have to get it done,’” he said.

But nothing could prepare him for what that routine test this past January would reveal.

”When I woke up my doctor said, ‘Can you go straight to the surgeons office?’” he recalled. “I was surprised, and he showed me the picture of the polyp that was five centimeters. And the ones they usually take out are millimeters in size.”

A massive polyp had grown in Thomas’s colon that needed to be removed immediately. After a quick laparoscopic procedure at Lexington Medical Center came a waiting game to see if the growth was cancerous.

“You have no idea until the pathology comes back days after surgery,” he said.

The good news came days later. The growth was not cancer. But doctors said had it been allowed to grow undetected it could have turned cancerous in less than a year.

“This was a huge shock. Because I had no symptoms,” Seastrunk said.

Doctors, including Dr. Roland Craft at Lexington Medical Center, are now urging people to get colonoscopies even earlier.

”More recently there’s been an increase in younger adults in colorectal cancer,” Dr. Craft said. “So screening recommendations have changed. Previously it was 50 to 70 (years old) for appropriate risk adults, and that’s changed to 45.”

The message from doctors is clear: early detection saves lives.

“If it’s caught early it’s very treatable,” Seastrunk said. “Most people don’t like to say ‘curable’ when you talk about cancers -- but it can become in remission quite easily if it’s caught early.”

He urges people to make the decision that very well could have saved his life.

“Please get your colonoscopy done!” he said.

Doctors say risk factors for colon cancer include family history, poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol use.

There are several colon cancer screening methods. You should consult with your doctor to determine which works best for you.

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