At-home colon cancer test can save a life – if you follow up

After patient dismisses results, doctors support her colonoscopy and find cancer

At-home colon cancer test can save a life – if you follow up

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of death among cancers in the United States, with more than 50,000 people dying from it each year. That makes screening for the disease particularly important.

Deb’s screening story

When Deborah Jendro of Fargo, North Dakota, spoke with her doctor about screening for colon cancer, she expected to find nothing out of the ordinary.

“I decided to do the Cologuard test, so I did that at home and sent it in. I’ve done one before and (that first test) came back negative,” said Jendro.

This time though, she tested positive. Despite the results, she found herself delaying a colonoscopy.

“The first one I had was negative, so I just assumed the second one would be negative too. And if it wasn’t, there must just be a mistake. I thought it must be a false positive,” Jendro said.

She also had difficulty prepping for her colonoscopy, not responding well to the solution that helps clear the colon prior to the procedure. So without telling her doctor, she cancelled the appointment and waited to discuss it until her next appointment three months later.

“She was very supportive, very kind and said, ‘You know, we really need to do this,’” said Jendro. “They took me down for the colonoscopy where I met Dr. Bassett, who is a very kind, very caring man … and after the test was done, Dr. Bassett came and talked to me and told me, ‘Deb, we found a reason why you were having some difficulties.’”

She had stage II colon cancer. Even with the delayed diagnosis, the cancer was caught early.

“In Deb’s case where she underwent surgery, we believe at this point that the cancer is gone,” said John Bassett, M.D., a gastroenterology specialist at Sanford Fargo. “I think she has an excellent prognosis.”

The importance of screening

For someone like Jendro, the Cologuard test helped save her life. Dr. Bassett encourages everyone to screen for colon cancer, especially once adults reach age 45.

“I don’t think that anyone looks forward to doing colon prep, but the truth is that it’s a minor inconvenience in the big picture as compared to the diagnosis of a cancer that could be life altering, or even life threatening,” said Dr. Bassett.

“It was scary,” said Jendro. “I consider myself one of the lucky people and maybe that’s why I’m here today. So I can tell all my friends and people in the community how important it is. Do not deny the offer to have a colonoscopy.”

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Posted In Cancer, Cancer Screenings, Digestive Health, Fargo, Healthy Living