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Colon Cancer Screening: 'There's No Reason Not to Do It'

March 20, 2022 Posted in: Health & Wellness , Cancer Care  2 minute read time

Cristal Worrix had no symptoms of colon cancer. No family history. No indication that she had any issues whatsoever.

So it came as a shock when doctors found a tumor on her liver that had metastasized from a primary tumor in her colon.

“I had no warning signs that alerted me to think I had a colon issue,” she said. “I did have genetic testing, which found I had no genetic predisposition for colon cancer.”

Worrix, 49, hadn’t had a colonoscopy or screening, which is recommended starting at age 45. Her OBGYN had suggested she take the at-home stool test, but Worrix overlooked it. She expected her family doctor to recommend a colonoscopy when she turned 50 and was planning to schedule one when it was recommended.

But last year, Worrix, who works at the CHI Saint Joseph Health - Outpatient Surgery Center as a radiologic technologist, started having severe abdominal issues.

When the pain escalated, her husband took her to the emergency department at Saint Joseph East, where doctors ordered a CT scan and found inflammation in the colon and a spot on her liver.

The liver issue was concerning. Her family doctor ordered an MRI to follow up on the lesion. Then came the biopsy and the news - the spot on the liver was cancer, but the malignancy had started in her colon. That’s when Worrix had a colonoscopy.

“At first we didn’t know it was a colon tumor until after I had my colonoscopy with Dr. (Kathleen) Martin,” Worrix said. Dr. Martin is a gastroenterologist with CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group - Gastroenterology in Lexington.

With that diagnosis, Worrix saw Dr. Michael Horn with CHI Saint Joseph Health - Cancer Care in Lexington, who recommended surgery, followed by a treatment plan developed in affiliation with Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center. Surgeons in Cleveland performed a wedge resection of her liver and a resection of her colon. Worrix then began chemotherapy treatments closer to home, at  CHI Saint Joseph Health - Cancer Care on the campus of Saint Joseph East.

Worrix’s diagnosis came on May 3, 2021, and her surgery was May 28, 2021. She was able to return to work in March, 2022, after being out for eight months for the surgery and chemotherapy.

Looking back, Worrix would have done things differently.

“I would recommend any kind of screening … if your doctor recommends it, do it,” she said. “Even if you think you’re too young, do it.”

She especially recommends following the guidelines for colorectal screening, and notes the colonoscopy is painless and the prep “is not terrible.” 

“There’s no reason not to do it,” she said.

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