By Tannya Joaquin
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States even though the disease is treatable.
Katie Couric encouraged viewers to get screened for colon cancer when she underwent a colonoscopy on the Today Show in 2000, but not everyone has rushed to follow her lead.
"This bleeding has been going on all these years off and on. There was never any pain," colon cancer patient Jeanelle Horner said.
Horner ignored the warning signs until she discovered blood in her stool.
"It was so large that the scope couldn't go past. It was about 90 percent blockage," Horner said. "It was probably growing in me five years, maybe 10."
Horner had advanced cancer stage three. She's undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and regrets not getting check sooner like Eldon Macaryan did.
"doing the colonoscopy if you think about it saved my life," Macaryan said. "That kind of polyp can transform to cancer at a high rate of transformation. I'm fortunate they caught it at that time."
Oncologist Melvin Palalay stresses early detection to catch colon cancer because it's treatable.
"These are what we're looking for with the colonoscopy and various types of polyps have different risks for cancer," Palalay said.
Without screening, statistics are not good.
"That translates in Hawaii to about 700 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed every year and 200 deaths," Palalay said.
Patients say the simple procedure is literally a lifeline.
If you catch it early, chance of curing it are 90 percent, and that's great odds.