TOP PHOTO: LaFollette Medical Center opened in 1956.

LAFOLLETTE, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – Many people often shudder when their doctor informs them it’s time for a screening colonoscopy. But regular screening, beginning at age 45 for people with average risk factors, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, per the ACS. The good news is that if colon cancer is detected before it spreads, the five-year survival rate is about 91 percent, according to the ACS. If it’s not caught before the cancer spreads to other organs, the survival rate dips to about 14 percent.

“There are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer – that’s why it’s so important to get screened,” says Rosemary Chickos, D.O., general surgeon on the medical staff at Tennova Healthcare – LaFollette Medical Center. “A colonoscopy is a fast and safe outpatient procedure that allows the physician to identify, remove, and test anything abnormal, such as a polyp, which is how most colorectal cancers begin.” People over age 45 have the highest risk of colorectal cancer. You may also be at higher risk if you are African American, smoke or have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Rosemary Chickos, D.O., is a general surgeon on the medical staff at Tennova Healthcare – LaFollette Medical

“Your doctor can advise you about the right time to begin, as well as testing frequency, but industry guidelines suggest that a repeat screening should be conducted every 10 years for adults with average risk. People at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer may need to be tested earlier than age 45 and more frequently, as determined by your physician,” says Dr. Chickos.

Everyone can take these healthy steps to help prevent colorectal cancer:
● Get screened starting at age 45 – earlier if you have above average risk factors.
● Encourage your family members and friends over age 45 to get screened.
● Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
● Get plenty of physical activity and eat healthy.

Depending on your age, a colonoscopy screening may be a covered wellness test under your insurance plan, and most plans cover a colonoscopy completely as a follow-up test or diagnostic tool. Check with your insurance provider and your doctor’s office for help scheduling a screening exam. If you need a doctor, call (423) 907-1600 or schedule online.

About Tennova Healthcare:
The Tennova Healthcare network of hospitals in East Tennessee includes Jefferson Memorial Hospital, LaFollette Medical Center, Newport Medical Center, North Knoxville Medical Center and Turkey Creek Medical Center with nearly 16,000 admissions, 410,000 outpatient visits and 125,000 emergency department visits each year. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (855)836-6682 or visit HERE. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 03/28/2023-6AM)