At 49, Ed Ottensman considered himself active and healthy. He had some minor digestive issues that he shared with his primary care provider. He was referred to Peter Klein, MD, ProMedica Physicians Colorectal Surgery, for a colonoscopy.
The colonoscopy discovered a cancerous tumor. For the next 14 months, Ed underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments as well as two surgeries, the first of which was nine hours long.
Today, Ed is back to work full time and cancer-free. He is encouraging others to get their screenings.
“I wish I would have been checked out earlier. I know people have reservations about getting a colonoscopy but I’m here to tell you that pales in comparison to big surgeries and cancer treatments,” said Ed.
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women combined in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1 in 3 adults who need to be screened are actually doing it.
Additionally, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance sites data that young-onset of colorectal cancer is still on the rise. The rates for people aged 55 or over dropped by 3.6% each year from 2007- 2016. Conversely, the rates for people under 55 increased 2% each year from 2007- 2016.
“We are starting to screen people younger and the American Cancer Society now recommends that all men and women have a colonoscopy starting at age 45 and especially if they have a family history of colon cancer,” said Dr. Klein. “If that had been the recommendation years ago, hopefully, we would have caught Ed’s case before it turned to cancer.”
90 percent of colon cancer cases could be prevented if people were screened at the appropriate time. It is important to talk to your doctor and insurance provider about the best schedule for you. They can help evaluate your family history and risk factors.
A colonoscopy is not only a cancer screening but it also serves as an opportunity for polyps to be identified and removed immediately, preventing a possible colorectal cancer diagnosis. If a polyp is large enough, tissue can be taken and sent for biopsy to determine the exact type of polyp.
Dr. Klein also stresses the importance of prevention, “While colon cancer is the third cause of cancer death, it can largely be prevented. Research shows that eating well, getting your exercise, knowing your family history and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes significantly decrease your chances of a colon cancer diagnosis.”
Hear Ed share his story with NBC 24: