March Is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Mercy Gastroenterologist Dr. Patrick Hyatt Discusses The Importance Of Colon Cancer Screenings

March 26, 2014
Dr. Patrick Hyatt - Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy

Dr. Patrick Hyatt - Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy

Colon cancer over the past decade decreased by 30 percent for people over the age of 50, mainly because more people are getting colonoscopies, according to the American Cancer Society. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that millions still aren't getting the screenings.

According to gastroenterologist Dr. Patrick Hyatt of The Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy Medical Center, people shouldn't put off a colonoscopy because it's the best way to prevent the common and deadly form of cancer.

"This is the only screening test that's been shown to prevent cancer before it starts, and, in some cases, detects cancer at an early enough stage that it can be cured operatively before it spreads to other parts of the body," Dr. Hyatt said.

Most colon cancer occurs in patients after the age of 50 and that cancer typically takes about 10 years to develop in the colon; however, those who have a family history of colon cancer may get it earlier.

"That process may begin at a younger age and may be accelerated to less than 10 years, so that's why it's important to begin screening at a younger age," Dr. Hyatt said.

Those who don't have a family history of colon cancer should begin screenings at the age of 50 and then get them every 10 years after that if there are no polyps. Those who do have a family history should get a colonoscopy at the age of 40 or the age that is approximately 15 years before the youngest case in the family.

All her life, Jeanette Cole made sure she scheduled her routine physicals and checkups, but one thing she put off for years was a colonoscopy.

"I figured that there's no family history, and I went for all my other regular physical exams -- my gynecology, my dental, my eye -- and I could rationalize completely that there was no reason to have to have a colonoscopy because I was healthy," she said.

But a colonoscopy she finally got in 2009 revealed she wasn't healthy and did have colon cancer.

Cole was lucky. She had part of her colon surgically removed, and follow-up screenings showed that everything was cleared.

"I'm great. When Dr. Hyatt said I didn't have to come back for three years, I was very excited," she said.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

View Dr. Hyatt’s interview with WBAL-TV11 regarding colon cancer, colon cancer screenings and colonoscopies.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

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, MDMercyMedia on FacebookTwitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.

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