Sharing His Story to Help Others
- Spectrum News 1’s Seth Voorhees is used to telling other people’s stories, now the multimedia journalist is sharing his own after a recent colon cancer battle.
- Voorhees says he hadn’t experienced any symptoms, at least that he noticed, which is why screenings are so important.
- Experts say to start getting checked at 45 or sooner if you have a family history.
- For most patients, a change in bowel habits is a common indicator of colon cancer. This ranges from constipation or diarrhea to changes in the size or shape of bowel movements.
Voorhees was diagnosed with colon cancer in December, and has just heard the words that cancer patients dream of: “Cancer-free.” Now he’s hoping to help others never have to hear “the C word” in the first place.Read More
Seth’s Colon Cancer Diagnosis
Voorhees had his first colonoscopy, a standard screening method for colorectal cancer, at 54. Doctors removed five polyps, which are growths in the lining of the bowel. One came back with cancer cells. Voorhees says he hadn’t experienced any symptoms, at least that he noticed. Two major ones when patients do experience symptoms? Blood in your stool or a change of bowel habits. People often have a hard time discussing these more “embarrassing” symptoms, which is one of the reasons there are so many cases in the United States.
On the plus side, colon cancer is easily preventable and also very treatable if caught early. If it weren’t for getting checked, Voorhees would have had no idea he had cancer. Now he can use his experience to help others.
“I feel lucky and incredibly thankful,” he expressed. “I hope that by sharing my story, it will make a difference, and maybe convince someone else to get checked out.”
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Screening for Colon Cancer
Experts say that people should start screening for colon cancer at 45, and much sooner if you have a family history.
“Once you have your initial screening colonoscopy, if there are no polyps and you have no high risk factors, usually once every 10 years is fine,” Dr. Heather Yeo from Weill Cornell Medicine advised to SurvivorNet. Colon cancer is a slowly progressing cancer.
In between screenings or prior to your first, it’s important to know the typical symptoms to look out for. Although Voorhees says he did not notice any symptoms, his cancer was caught very early.
“One of the most important facts about colon cancer is that the earlier and smaller it’s detected, the easier the treatment is and the more likely it is to be cured,” Dr. Paul Oberstein from NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center explained to SurvivorNet.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
As mentioned earlier, a change in bowel habits is a common indicator of colon cancer. This ranges from constipation or diarrhea to changes in the size or shape of bowel movements.
“We often recommend to patients that if they see a change in their bowel movements and they feel more fatigued than usual, or they have new issues, it’s something to be concerned about and to be pursued with their physician,” Dr. Oberstein added.
A change in stool color, particularly black or tarry stools, can indicate bleeding from a tumor that lies deep in the colon. Other symptoms can be harder to pinpoint, such as abdominal pain and unintentional weight loss.
Finally, some tumors bleed a small amount over a long period of time, resulting in anemia (low red blood cell count) that is picked up on blood work.
Bottom line, it is crucial report any symptoms out of the ordinary that last more than a week. Also, make sure to consult a physician to know when you should start getting checked for colon cancer and all other types of cancer.
We can never have too many reminders to prioritize our health. Thank you, Seth, for sharing your story.