published Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Race promotes colon cancer awareness

by Emily Bregel


• What: Get Your Rear in Gear 5k run/walk

• When: March 12 at 11 a.m. 5k timed race; 1 p.m. 5k run/walk

• Where: Tennessee Riverwalk at C.B. Robinson Bridge

• Fees: Pre-registration $25 adults, $12 children 12 and under; race-day registration $30 adults, $15 children 12 and under

• Info:

After steadfastly refusing to get a colonoscopy for years, Alan Hunt was finally berated into getting the recommended cancer screening four years ago.

"Basically, my wife and [my doctor] browbeat me into having a colonoscopy at age 56," he said.

Turns out, Hunt had four polyps on his colon, one of which already had turned cancerous. The cancer also had spread to one of his lymph nodes.

After surgery and chemotherapy, Hunt is now cancer-free and has become an evangelical for the screening he said saved his life.

"God must have been looking out for me. Ever since then I have just decided if there's anyone I can convince they need to have their colonoscopy at 50, I'll do it," said Hunt, who is now 60.

Hunt is a volunteer for the first local "Get Your Rear in Gear" 5k run scheduled for March. The event aims to spread awareness about colorectal cancer and raise money for screenings.

In Tennessee in 2008, colorectal cancer was the third-most deadly cancer, killing 1,237 people, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

But with regular screenings, colon cancer is almost 100 percent preventable, said Dr. Shauna Lorenzo-Rivero, Chattanooga colorectal surgeon with University Surgical Associates and one of the founders of the local race.

If caught before it turns cancerous, a polyp can be removed during a colonoscopy and does not require another procedure, she said.

"I'd much rather remove a polyp (during a colonoscopy) than to find them in the emergency room with a tumor that requires surgery and sometimes chemotherapy," she said.


Screening recommendations

With normal risk level:

• First colonoscopy at 50

• Every 10 years after

With family history:

• First colonoscopy at 40

• Every five years after

Source: American Cancer Society

about Emily Bregel...

Health care reporter Emily Bregel has worked at the Chattanooga Times Free Press since July 2006. She previously covered banking and wrote for the Life section. Emily, a native of Baltimore, Md., earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Columbia University. She received a first-place award for feature writing from the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists’ Golden Press Card Contest for a 2009 article about a boy with a congenital heart defect. She ...

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