Colonoscopy cuts cancer risk

Royal Perth Hospital colorectal surgeon Mary Theophilus with Michael Zirino and his wife Rosa.
Royal Perth Hospital colorectal surgeon Mary Theophilus with Michael Zirino and his wife Rosa.

The 66-year-old said his cancer went undiagnosed for more than four months.

�I was feeling very sick and constipated around Christmas time, but I thought it was maybe acid in my stomach,� Mr Zirino said.

�I got some medicine, but the cramps just wouldn�t go away.

�Eventually I went to have an X-ray and the doctor found I had a blockage, but she said she would let me know if it was anything serious.

�It was not until I had a colonoscopy in April that I found out the truth.�

Royal Perth Hospital colorectal surgeon Mary Theophilus said Mr Zirino �sailed through� his surgery last month.

�We are getting much better at doing the surgery than 20 years ago,� she said.

�In the past, Michael would have got a massive cut from top to bottom, but instead he only had a very small one with keyhole surgery. He was home in five days.�

Dr Theophilus said the most important message to take away from Mr Zirino�s story was to have regular colonoscopies.

�Michael was scared to have a colonoscopy two years ago but if he had done, we might have caught it at a pre-cancerous stage and would not have needed to operate,� she said.

�With bowel cancer you feel nothing until it�s advanced to a certain stage.

�We have the National Bowel Cancer Screening program now and a lot of people don�t take it up.

�The longer you leave it, the higher the risk of having a stoma, surgery or major issue later on.�

Bowel cancer causes the second-highest number of cancer deaths in Australia. Visit www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/screening