McFarland Clinic

Colon Cancer Awareness Month

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March 5, 2013

Colon cancer may not be at the top of your list of things to talk about with family and friends. However, it can be a life saving conversation when both and men and women age 50 older are reminded of the importance of a colon cancer screening test . 1 in 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer. For this reason, advocates for colon cancer awareness have designated March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer death for men and women. The CDC further notes that the risk of colon cancer increases with age and nearly 90% of cases occur in people age 50 or older.  

As with other cancers, treatment for colorectal cancer works best when the cancer is found early. Screening tests such as colonoscopy allow the doctor to see inside your entire colon and rectum. The doctor will be looking for polyps which are small growths inside the colon or rectum. Some polyps turn into cancer. 

Colonoscopies are performed at Mary Greeley Medical Center and Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center by physicians who offer advanced treatment procedures. Colorectal cancer is usually treated with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

McFarland Clinic physicians perform hundreds of colonoscopies each year. In addition, McFarland Clinic surgeons perform a specialized surgical option for colon cancer called laparoscopic surgery also referred to as minimally invasive surgery. 

During laparoscopic surgery, procedures are performed by making small incisions and positioning miniature video cameras, fiber optic flashlights, and several thin instruments inside the patient’s body. The surgeon is then able to use the video camera to transmit images of the organs being operated on to a monitor.  

The patient experiences faster healing time from the small incisions and is able to leave the hospital sooner and with less pain.

Get Screened

If you are over the age of 50 and wish to schedule a screening colonoscopy, please call the McFarland Clinic Gastroenterology Department in Ames at 515-239-4450 or the Surgery Department in Marshalltown at 641-752-6391.

What Are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don't always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. Symptoms for colorectal cancer may include—

  • Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement).
  • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away.
  • Losing weight and you don't know why.

These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you're having any of these symptoms, the only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.

For more information about colorectal cancer, visit If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your primary care provider to discuss your health care concerns.

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