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WI Cancer Survivor: Get Tested for Your Family

March 15, 2011

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Don't tell colon cancer survivor Robert Webster of Milwaukee that it only strikes people over 50. His daughter was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 20. Webster recommends getting tested for colorectal cancer, and not just for yourself.

"The greatest motivation is your family. You go home to your family, and you do it for them. I mean, if everybody would do that, it'd be a better world."

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Cancer Society (ACS) says colorectal cancer rates have dropped significantly in Wisconsin in the past decade because of early detection, better treatments, and healthier lifestyles. For people at average risk, talk to your doctor about getting tested when you're 50. Webster says he and his family got tested much younger.

"If you've had a history of it in your family, particularly at younger ages, like both my grandmother and mother had it at age 36, then your likelihood to have it at an early age is much stronger."

Colorectal cancer can be prevented through screening, which allows doctors to find polyps and remove them before they turn cancerous. The ACS hopes people will use this month as an opportunity to make screening a priority. Webster says taking a half-day out of your busy schedule could save your life.

One of the things you can do to help put the odds in your favor, says Webster, is living a healthy lifestyle.

"And that's to maintain a healthy weight, to watch what you eat. Eat a healthy diet, don't eat too much red meat for example; avoid smoking; and be reasonable on alcohol consumption. So, those are all good, healthy things to do for general health overall, but it affects colon cancer also."

The ACS says the most important thing you can do to prevent colon cancer or find it early is to get tested.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI