‘For colon cancer, there’s not enough information out there and it’s disheartening’: survivors, local professionals bringing more awareness

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and the CDC shows more than 100,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with colon cancer in 2022: the latest date for data shown.

“For colon cancer, there’s not enough information out there, and it’s disheartening. People actually don’t know the signs,” survivor Rashawn Mitchell said.

“There are no signs or symptoms to be on the lookout for when it’s early and small; that’s really where we can make the difference is, if we catch it before it’s had a chance to spread somewhere in the body,” Doctors Hospital General Surgeon Dr. James Bardoner said.

That was the case for Rashawn Mitchell nearly 10 years ago after being diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer.

“He was just blatant, ‘we’re gonna do a rectal’ and he did a rectal – actually that same day – and when he did my rectal exam, that’s when he saw blood in my stool,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell says she went home and told her mother who previously battled breast cancer. Genetics are something Dr. Bardoner says they look at when considering risk factors.

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“The rule is age 45 or 10 years before the earliest affected family member. So, if your mom, dad, brother, or sister had colon cancer younger than age 55, then subtract 10 from whatever age they were diagnosed, and that’s when you should start,” says Dr. Bardoner.

“My mom called one of her friends, and I got into Piedmont, actually, that next week. Did my colonoscopy and had my surgery that next month,” Mitchell said.

That’s the way, Dr. Bardoner says, they check for cancer.

“We will see something inside the colon and we take pieces of it, or biopsies, and we’ll send that off to the lab to look at under a microscope and say, yes unfortunately this is colon cancer,” says Dr. Bardoner.

Mitchell will be celebrating 10 years free of cancer, but says her fight is far from over.

“It’s just not enough information out there. Even going to a gastro doctor, they should have literature out there, and they don’t. It’s just not enough information so we beg people all the time: ‘Hey, [don’t forget about] colon cancer.’ We just need some help.”

On Saturday, March 30th, the 2nd annual Colon Cancer Walk will be held in downtown Augusta from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M., and that event raises awareness for colon cancer and is open to the public.

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