- With Mayo Clinic nurse educator
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.read biographyclose window
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.Sheryl M. Ness
Sheryl Ness, R.N., O.C.N., is a nurse educator for the Cancer Education Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She helps inform patients, families and caregivers about services and resources to help them through the cancer journey.
She has a master's degree in nursing from Augsburg College. In addition, she is an assistant professor of oncology at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, and is certified as a specialist in oncology nursing. Sheryl has worked for more than 20 years at Mayo Clinic as an educator. She has a keen interest in the importance of the quality of life and concerns of people living with cancer.
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Colon cancer awareness first step toward prevention
By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
Men and women alike can get colon cancer, however, people at a higher risk for developing colon cancer include those with a history of inflammatory bowel disease (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease) and those with a family history of colon cancer.
The two most common inherited syndromes linked with colorectal cancers are familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), also known as Lynch Syndrome. FAP is caused by mutations in the APC gene that you inherit from your parents.
Women with HNPCC have a high risk of also developing cancer of the endometrium (lining of the uterus). Other cancers linked with HNPCC include cancer of the ovary, stomach, small bowel, pancreas, kidney, brain, ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder), and bile duct.
Colon cancer can be prevented with screening and removal of any polyps before they develop into cancer. Normally, screening should begin at age 50. However, if you have a higher risk or a family history you may need to be screened at a younger age.
Screening methods include stool tests to check for blood (fecal occult blood test), sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, double-contrast barium enema, and CT colonography (or virtual colonoscopy).
A newer screening method, stool DNA (sDNA) testing, awaits FDA approval. It identifies abnormal changes (markers) in the cells that are shed by the lining of the colon. That in turn can lead to early detection of polyps and colon cancer.
Research has shown that this noninvasive test accurately detects both colon cancer (at early stages) and precancerous polyps.
Look for updates on the new sDNA test and read more about it on mayoclinic.com. Work with your health care provider to find out what your personal risk is and how often you should be screened. Have you had your colon cancer screening test?blog index