MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- March is colon cancer awareness month. This form of cancer often affects men, age 50 and older, but as Lynn Godec found out, the disease doesn't discriminate. She was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer at the age of 37.
“I always thought about breast cancer or skin cancer, or some of the common cancers you kind of grow up hearing about. But no one had talked about colon cancer,” said Godec.
Now a five-year cancer survivor, Godec uses her experiences to get others to get screened.
“People will open up to me now given my history with colorectal cancer and they will say you know this is what I’m feeling, these are my symptoms, do you think I should get scoped?” said Godec, “ So for me it’s more about celebrating my experience through sharing that with other people. In order to help prevent them from getting cancer or catch it before it gets to an advanced stage like mine was.”
Doctors usually start strongly recommending screening to patients at 50 and over, or with a family history of the disease, but doctors say that doesn’t mean you can’t get screened sooner.
“You can definitely get colon or rectal cancer before the age of 50, it just so happens that 90 some percent of cases are in patients older than 50,” said Dr. Kirk Ludwig, the Chief of Colorectal Surgery at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Colon cancer, and especially the screening process -- often a colonoscopy -- isn’t a topic many enjoy, but it is an important thing to at least think about Dr. Ludwig advises. “It's not really a topic you'd probably talk about at a cocktail party or over a drink, but it's really important. Colon and rectal cancer is a major problem in the United States. It’s the 2nd leading cancer killer for both men and women.”
Colon cancer kills about 50,000 Americans each year.