Beating Colorectal Cancer

Early detection is important in the early treatment and likely cure of many ailments, and this is more paramount when it comes to the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer. If we can nip it in the bud thru an early detection of precancerous polyps, then that would be much better.

When Dr. Jun Ruiz, one of our patriotic gastroenterologists who gave up a lucrative practice in the United States to come back here and offer his expertise, suggested that we make colorectal cancer the theme for this month’s issue of H&L, I readily agreed.

With two of my brothers dying from colon cancer, I have also waged a personal crusade against this third most common cancer worldwide, and I support any campaign on educating the people on how to prevent it. There’s good evidence to show that one could figuratively nip it in the bud with early detection and excision of precancerous polyps through colonoscopy.

In expert hands, colonoscopy is a relatively simple but life-saving procedure to visualize the entire length of the colon and excise any polyp if present through its clippers or snare at the tip of the instrument.

I have been a beneficiary to this modern technology when I first underwent it around four years ago at the Manila Doctor’s Hospital. Noted gastroenterologist Dr. Choy Nolasco did the procedure on me with Dr. Mon Pesigan giving the intravenous sedation. Dr. Nolasco expertly removed three polyps from my colon, one of which was quite big already and almost ripe to become a cancerous tissue in a few years.

That was quite a life-changing moment for me. Still a bit drowsy from the mild sedation Mon had given me, I cried like a small boy when Choy told me about the polyps she had removed. I wrote about it immediately in my weekly column in the Inquirer, so it could serve as a testimonial about the benefits of early screening for colorectal cancer.

During the procedure, after being told of the polyps seen and excised from my colon, I couldn’t help but be overcome by two emotions—gladness and gratitude that the polyps were discovered early enough before they could become a fully developed Big C perhaps in a few years; and sadness as I remembered my two elder brothers whose lives were taken by colon cancer at the prime of their lives.

It is unfortunate that only about half of people who have strong indications for a colonoscopy have it done, because of misconceptions about the procedure, like it’s “embarrassing, uncomfortable and risky.” In expert hands like those of Dr. Nolasco and Dr. Ruiz, the risk of complications is extremely low.

Colonoscopy usually takes less than an hour. Except for some cramping or bloating, one wakes up from the procedure feeling rested and relaxed from the short-acting sedative one is given for anesthesia.

We’re grateful to Dr. Ruiz for taking the initiative to invite his two other colleagues at The Medical Center— Dr. Beatrice J. Tiangco, and Dr. Manuel Francisco T. Roxas—to join him in providing updates in the diagnosis, and medical and surgical management of colorectal cancer.

We hope you enjoy reading and learn some updates from this issue of H&L. And as my daughters Shelly and Abbie would always tell me, “Be happy and healthy always.”


February 2015 Health and Lifestyle

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