Thursday, March 27, 2008

Genealogy Can Save Your Life (Update)

Two months ago I posted about how important it is to know when and how your recent ancestors died. At its most basic, if certain diseases run in your family, you can be tested early for those diseases.

The American Cancer Society recommends those without risk factors to have a colonoscopy at age 50. For those with members of the immediate family with colon cancer, it is advised to begin checking 10 years prior to the age of the relative was diagnosed. My maternal grandmother died at age 51.

This morning I had my first colonoscopy, and two polyps were removed. I'm 39. If I hadn't known about my grandmother, and waited until I was 50, there's a good chance I wouldn't have made it.


Terry Thornton said...

John, I am so sorry to hear that you had polyps at such an early age, 39. But I am so glad you heeded the recommendation based upon family history and had the early colonoscopy.

I think the procedure you had today probably saved your life!

And your post will probably help save others. Thanks for this important reminder for early colonoscopy studies for anyone with a genetic link to colon cancer.

John said...

There's no reason to be sorry, honestly. I look at this as very good news. This weekend with some friends I am raising a glass of wine, and toasting modern medicine and early detection.

There's an old saying, "You can't change the cards you're dealt with." However, that's an analogy to "Stud Poker." In "Draw Poker," you can change your cards! And today I did.

Thomas MacEntee said...

Thanks for the post - colon cancer runs in my maternal family as well and luckily at age 45 I am still in the clear. I know the topic is not pleasant to discuss, nor is the procedure, but I'd rather catch it early rather than late.

I just hope that they can speed up the new virtual colonoscopy process so it is available at all hospitals and, more importantly, that insurance companies will cover it an not consider it an unnecessary procedure!