“Thank God my daughter took matters into her own hands and made the appointment for me to have a colonoscopy,” states Ms. Roper. “Can you imagine? I was walking around with colorectal cancer for a year and didn’t know it.”
Women are far less likely than men to have colonoscopy screenings that can detect colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. This is despite the fact that colorectal cancer strikes both men and women equally—over 100,000 Americans annually.
At age 50, Vicki Roper was diagnosed with colon cancer.
“I guess I put off having the colonoscopy because I really didn’t know what to expect. I was concerned that it would be extremely painful or at least uncomfortable in some way. In fact,” Vicki adds, “it was a very easy and pain-free procedure.”
According to Dr. Korina Bersentes, one of just a few women gastroenterologists in Northern Colorado, it is every bit as important for women to get colonoscopies as pap smears and mammograms. And once the first colonoscopy is performed, most women don’t require them as often as gynecological screenings.
Five days after Vicki’s tumor was discovered, she underwent surgery to remove it. Now, her digestive tract is functioning as well as it always did.
“I can’t emphasize enough how important that colonoscopy was in discovering the colorectal cancer. Without it, I would still very possibly not know that I had cancer. And early detection is key. If my cancer had been detected any later, I feel certain that I would have been looking at a much grimmer prognosis.”