Local doctors report alarming decline in cancer screenings since start of pandemic

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 7:24 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Doctors are reporting an alarming decline in screening for colon cancer since the start of the pandemic.

“There has been an 86% decline in screenings since the pandemic started,” Dr. Chistina Levings with Waco Gastroenterology said Tuesday.

“Over the next decade, there are an estimated 10,000 more deaths of colon cancer expected.”

“Colon cancer is 90% curable if it is detected early through appropriate screenings, so if people are not getting their screenings, then we are not able to treat it,” Levings said.

The screening made all the difference for David Everett.

Everett underwent the recommended colonoscopy on March 4, 2019, when he was 50.

“We were laughing and cutting up and when I came out of the colonoscopy. (The doctor) was in the same place I left him, but this time he wasn’t smiling,” Everett said.

“He had said he had found some polyps. He also said there was a suspicious mass.”

It wasn’t long after that Everett was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.

“Out of 20 lymph nodes that we took, there were cancer cells in 12 of them,” Everett said.

Everett said he started treatment, keeping a positive mindset.

He was able to ring the bell as cancer-free in October 2019.

His doctors told him that if he had waited for his screening, the years remaining with his family would have been numbered.

Now, he wants to remind everyone to get checked.

“That is why they call colon cancer the silent killer,” Everett said.

“When you do see the signs of symptoms, a lot of the time, it’s too late.”

“Go and get it done because you would rather be safe than sorry,” Everett said.

Many doctors recommend beginning colon cancer screening at the age of 45.

Those with such symptoms as abdominal cramps or blood in the stool should call a doctor as soon as possible.

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