“There is an urgent need to address these disparities, especially in the areas of routine screening for cancers, prevention and early treatment,” Saunkeah said.
Perdue said once presented with this type of information, hospital staff can better educate patients on the signs, symptoms and treatments of colorectal cancer. When patients understand the risks and know the symptoms, they are more inclined to seek proper life-saving preventive treatments.
Dr. Perdue, who holds a Master’s of Science in Public Health, also discussed how to determine what best practices might need to be implemented at clinics within the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center to more effectively diagnose and treat the illness. New strategies aimed at improving the overall understanding of colorectal cancer screening were also discussed.
Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they will likely vary, depending on the cancer’s size and location in your large intestine, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Perdue said it is time to see a physician when one first becomes symptomatic. Consult a physician about when to begin screening for colon cancer. Guidelines generally recommend colon cancer screenings begin at age 50. Your doctor may recommend more frequent or earlier screening if you have other risk factors such as a family history of the disease, he said.
According to the Mayo Clinic, warning signs may first arise from a change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of the stool. Others are:
(1) Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
(2) Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
(3) A feeling the bowel does not empty completely
(4) Weakness or fatigue
(5) Unexplained weight loss
EMBRACING HIS HERITAGE
Perdue grew up in Spokane, Wash., where he developed an interest in medicine. He was not raised in a traditional Native American setting, but was informed about his American Indian roots and returned to the Ada area every summer during his youth to visit his paternal grandparents. He learned about Chickasaw heritage and culture during these trips.