Mercy Gastroenterologist Dr. Michael Cox Discusses The Importance Of Preventive Screening In The Fight Against Colon Cancer
Mercy gastroenterologist Dr. Michael Cox emphasizes the importance of early detection in the fight against colon cancer.
Colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest cancers in the U.S., but doctors say it can be detected early and prevented through colonoscopy screenings.
This past New Year's Eve was a night Barbara Weissenberger said she'll never forget. While celebrating with family and friends at the Kennedy Center, she suddenly became ill.
"I said to my husband, 'I don't feel well,' and he caught me as I fell," she said.
Weissenberger had been dealing with unexplained diarrhea and anemia. She consulted Mercy Medical Center gastroenterologist Dr. Michael Cox.
"Then I went to Dr. Cox and had a colonoscopy done, and he found that I had a cancerous tumor that had been bleeding for some time," Weissenberger said.
March is national Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Dr. Cox noted he wants to get the word out that colonoscopy screenings are very important for finding colorectal cancer and preventing it.
"This is not an embarrassing test. It should not be an embarrassing test. It's what we do for a living: We take care of people. We're very good at it. It's a very safe, easy test for most people," Dr. Cox said.
According to Dr. Cox, most people should get their first colonoscopy at age 50, but black people should start at age 45 because they can be at a higher risk for the disease. Those with a family history may need to begin screenings at an earlier age.
After a first colonoscopy, a doctor will recommend when a person should have their next one.
"You have about five feet of colon," Dr. Cox said. "We look in that five feet, looking for polyps. Polyps are a form of tumor. We remove the tumor, and we reduce your risk of getting colon cancer from it."
Weissenberger's tumor was removed surgically, and she's feeling healthy again. She said those who are having problems and putting off seeing a doctor should go immediately.
"You can't get better unless you find out what it is and deal with it. It's only going to get worse until you remove the cause of the problem, and that's what happened with me," she said.
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.
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