Turning 50? Time for a colonoscopy

Denver woman alerts others after cancer diagnosis

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. -- Martha Williams says she should have had a colonoscopy as soon as she turned 50. But she didn’t get one until a close friend was diagnosed with colon cancer.

"It's just something that’s very easy to put off," says Williams about why she didn't get one at age 50.

When Martha did go in for a scan, she got bad news. She had colon cancer. Fortunately it was in the early stages.

"Everyone said because you came in and got your screening you probably saved your life," says Williams.

Dr. Eben Strobos at Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge operated on Williams and says her story should encourage everyone to keep up with the recommended screening. Dr. Strobos says 58 percent of  Americans are not getting a colonoscopy when they turn 50, as recommended by the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Strobos says many people put it off because they don't think there's anything wrong with them. But colon cancer is a silent killer.

"Which means that you will not feel the symptoms even if you have colon cancer," he says.

Some people should be screened at an earlier age, and more frequently. Those include people with a family history of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or polyps. A recent study found more people under 55 are being diagnosed with the disease, a trend that Dr. Strobos has also observed.

Related: More Colorado millennials have colorectal cancer 

If you do have cancer, the sooner you find it the better. There are new options for surgery and treatment. Surgeons at Lutheran Medical Center are using new robotic technologies that produce better results, and quick recoveries. 

Williams was back to playing sports in six weeks. She's glad to be back on her feet, cancer free, and looking forward to enjoying the rest of her 50's, 60's, 70's and beyond.

"Don’t delay. it’s not going to make anything better by putting it off."

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