Colon Cancer Treatment Burlington VT
Hematology / Oncology
Hematology / Oncology
Graduation Year: 2007
General Surgery, Surgical Oncology
Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology
Oncology (Cancer), Radiation Oncology
Medical School: Univ Of Vt Coll Of Med, Burlington Vt 05405
Graduation Year: 1988
Hospital: Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, Vt
Group Practice: Radiation Oncology
Hospital: Fletcherallen Health Care
Accepting New Patients: Yes
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The third leading cancer in the US now strikes more women than men. Find out
By Susan Weiner
Darlene Kipling felt like she’d been sideswiped by a city bus when her doctor announced that she had colon cancer. What made the diagnosis even more alarming is that Kipling, a registered nurse, tends to cancer patients for a living. “I really didn’t expect it to be colon cancer,” she says. “My symptoms were so minor. Probably if I had not been an oncology nurse, I would not have realized I had a problem until much later.”
The minor symptom that prompted Kipling, then 52, to see her physician would easily have been overlooked by most of us: a tiny speck of burgundy in her stool. She spotted it once, then again three weeks later. At the urging of her physician, Kipling underwent a colonoscopy (the most comprehensive test for colon cancer), where he discovered and removed three polyps, growths that project from the lining of the intestine or rectum.
Polyps, which grow on a stalk and may appear like a mushroom or a cherry on a stem, can turn into cancer with time. A biopsy of Kipling’s polyps determined that two of the mushroom-like growths were, indeed, cancerous.
Kipling was fortunate: The disease was early-stage. Colon cancer caught early can often be cured simply by removing the offending growths, but her doctor opted for a bowel resection, surgery that entails removing portions of the diseased bowel and reattaching the remainder to create a functioning colon. The surgery is significant and not without risks, including infection, abscess, fistula, obstruction and lifetime use of a colostomy bag. Fortunately, she came through it without a hitch.
Had Kipling not been a self-described “stool watcher,” she never would have detected what turned out to be a life-saving symptom. If she’d missed the sign, or waited, the symptoms would have progressed and could have included severe abdominal pain, constipation, bleeding and black stools. Early-stage colorectal cancer—which includes cancers of the colon, rectum, appendix and anus—is highly treatable, with a five-year survival rate of 90%, yet only 39% of all cases are diagnosed at this highly curable stage, mostly due to low rates of screening.
“The bottom line for me is that I had the earliest possible form of colon cancer,” says an indebted Kipling, who presently works for Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “The lesson is that people need to check their stool.”
A Warning for Women
Once considered a man’s disease, colon cancer now afflicts more women than men. Colon cancer is the third leading cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among both sexes in the US, but significantly more women than men are now diagnosed with the malady. The American Cancer Society estimates that 57,460 women will learn that they have colon ...