Monday, March 26, 2007
Medical Reports: Catching Colon Cancer
Florida is facing a major health threat. Our state now ranks number two in the nation for the most cases of colon cancer. But the worst part is many people aren't getting screened -- even if they have symptoms. Tonight, 7's Richard Lemus shows us why catching colon cancer early is so important.
WSVN -- Tim Schaffer: "This is the actual game ball from the national championship."
Tim Schaffer is remembering his glory days: Playing baseball for the 'Canes and taking home the 1982 national championship.
Tim Schaffer: "Playing and being a part of that ball club and being with Ron Fraser who taught everyone around him, you take your challenges on, and you win."
Tim needed that winning attitude when he was recently diagnosed with colon cancer.
Tim Schaffer: "I had felt some pains in my lower right side of my abdomen. When they did the colonoscopy, Hugo did discover an 8 millimeter tumor."
It came as a shock to him because he was so young.
Tim Schaffer: "I was 44 years old when I was diagnosed, which is strange in itself."
He is not alone.
In Florida, more than 11,000 people will find out this year that they have colon cancer.
Dr. Moises Jacobs: "We're number two in the nation in the number of colon cancers we have."
Since colon cancer usually strikes people over 50, that age group is urged to get regular colonoscopys.
But younger people like Tim must rely on symptoms, like a change in bowel movements, blood in your stool, pain or cramping in the abdomen or unexplained weight loss.
Dr. Moises Jacobs: "If you're having symptoms, you need to go see your doctor, no matter what age."
And, if you do have colon cancer, treatment is getting easier.
The cancer is now removed laparoscopically, which means there are smaller incisions, and you're out of the hospital in two days.
Dr. Moises Jacobs: "That leads to much faster recovery, much shorter stay in hospital, much less pain."
Tim had the surgery and is cancer-free.
Tim Schaffer: "When I come out of surgery I had little or no pain. I was out of the hospital two days later, walking out of the hospital on my own."
With cancer behind him, Tim is looking forward to seeing all his baseball buddies at their 25th reunion next month.
Tim Schaffer: "It's going to be a lot of fun and getting together, talking about old times."
Richard Lemus: "Even though screening typically starts at age 50, if you have a family history of colon cancer, you should start getting regular screenings around age 40."