The Cancer Center urges early detection of colorectal cancer and offers free online risk assessment. Colorectal cancer is the leading cause of death in Louisiana.
(Baton Rouge, La.) When Barkley Booker rang in 2015 she considered it a gift. This is because three years ago she was diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer. And while she credits her treatment team at Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center with helping her beat the disease, her battle was also won because she quickly sought medical care when symptoms began appearing. But Booker’s case was rare because colorectal cancer can often go undetected until it has significantly advanced.
Louis Barfield, MD, colorectal surgeon and chair of Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center’s Colorectal Cancer Multidisciplinary Care Team, said Booker was fortunate her symptoms appeared before it was too late for intervention. However, this is not typically the case. As a result, he recommends individuals with risk factors such as those ages 50 and older and people who have a family history of the disease get screened regularly.
There are a variety of ways to test for colon cancer, including colonoscopies and take home kits to detect hidden blood in the stool. In recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, the Cancer Center is currently offering a free online assessment at www.mbpolol.org/colon to help determine if someone is at high risk for the disease and if they should contact their doctor about discussing screening options.
“Colorectal cancer is dangerous because symptoms typically only appear in advanced stages, and it’s also a disease people are embarrassed to talk about. But speaking to your doctor about your risks could save your life,” said Dr. Barfield. Symptoms that do sometimes occur include rectal bleeding, changes in bowel function, abnormal weight loss and abdominal pain.
“Getting screened for colorectal cancer is not a big deal,” said Booker. “It’s much better than the alternative of being treated for the disease. I’m lucky to have more time with my children, and who knows where I’d be if I hadn’t acted as fast. I encourage anyone who thinks they may be at risk to seek out the screening option that’s right for them.”
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined.
For more information on colorectal cancer screening options, visit www.mbpolol.org/colon. To learn about picking up a free fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) kit at one of the Cancer Center’s free screenings, call (225) 215-1234.