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Hartford HealthCare doctor: Colon cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence

Doctors say one in 17 people in the world will be diagnosed with colon cancer at some point in their lives.

Mark Sudol

Dec 9, 2022, 10:16 PM

Updated 556 days ago

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Doctors say one in 17 people in the world will be diagnosed with colon cancer at some point in their lives.
"Cheers" star Kirstie Alley died from this disease this week, her family said, after only recently discovering she had colon cancer.
"It was a short time frame, so she found out and it had already metastasized to other organs," said Dr. Daniel Lavy, a colon and rectal surgeon at Hartford HealthCare.
Lavy says colon cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence. It is completely preventable.
"Things just don't go from zero to cancer. First you have a growth on the inner lining of the large intestine called a polyp, and over time that transitions into a cancer," said Lavy.
Lavy says the best way to prevent colon cancer is to get a colonoscopy.
"It doesn't hurt, you're asleep for most of it and 20 minutes later you're done," said Lavy.
Doctors look in the intestines and remove polyps before they have a chance to become cancer.
"Growths, lesions, masses, lumps, bumps on the inner lining of the intestinal mucosa," said Lavy.
Doctors say if colon cancer gets worse, they can remove that part of the large intestine and you can live a normal, healthy life.
They say there are stool tests patients can use, but they are not as effective as a colonoscopy.
It's still unknown what type of treatment Alley had and just how long she had colon cancer.
Doctors recommend everyone get a colonoscopy by the age of 45 years old.
They say diets high in processed meat and low in fiber increase your risk for colon cancer.


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