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St. Luke’s Encourages Patients to Get a Life-Saving Screening

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Dr. Stephanie IrwinSt. Luke’s is encouraging those 45 and older to get a colonoscopy to prevent colon cancer.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month, and the American Cancer Society recently changed its screening guidelines and now recommends people be screened at 45 instead of 50 years old. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colon cancer affects both men and women, and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. However, it is a very slow growing cancer. When caught in the early stages, it can be dealt with and the survival rate is very high.

“Colonoscopies are the gold standard for colon cancer screening,” St. Luke’s Gastroenterologist Dr. Stephanie Irwin explained. “Having a colonoscopy might seem uncomfortable, but it requires only a bit of preparation. It is a relatively quick and painless procedure that could save your life and prevent cancer.”

During a colonoscopy, a thin tube with a camera is used to examine your colon. This procedure allows doctors to look for colon cancer, the cause of changes in bowel habits, and to evaluate symptoms such as abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or unintended weight loss.

According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, an estimated 149,500 people will be diagnosed with this highly preventable disease in 2021. To help with prevention efforts, you can schedule a colonoscopy at St. Luke’s facilities throughout the Northland – from Duluth to Superior to Ashland to Two Harbors to Hibbing. Appointments are readily available with one of St. Luke’s six board-certified gastroenterologists and most can be scheduled within 1 to 2 weeks. To learn more visit