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Jacksonville Doctor: Colon Cancer Doesn't Have To Kill So Many People

colon diagram
Michael McCollough via Flikr

It’s predicted 10,000 Floridians will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year. But the deadly disease is still considered very preventable.

Jacksonville’s Mayo Clinic Dr. Ken DeVault chairs the internal medicine department. He says he recently had to tell a patient: It’s colon cancer.

“I didn’t tell them this—I didn’t want them to feel bad—but I felt like, if they’d have just come eight years sooner, they wouldn’t have been dealing with it,” he says.

Colonoscopies every five or 10 years should start at age 50, he says, or at 45 for African-Americans, who seem to be at risk younger.  Precancerous polyps can be removed during the procedure.

And for people with family histories of colorectal cancer, they should start screenings when they’re 10 years younger than the family member was at diagnosis.

DeVault says colon cancer is the No. 2 killer among cancers, but it’s very curable when caught early.

Photo used under Creative Commons license. 

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP