St. Vincent Healthcare "goes blue" for National Colorectal Cance - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

St. Vincent Healthcare "goes blue" for National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month

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It is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. St. Vincent Healthcare is pushing awareness throughout Montana to encourage people to get a screening.

During the month of March, St. Vincent Healthcare and St. Vincent Frontier Center are "going blue" for National Cancer Awareness month. One may have seen a bright blue ribbon on the sides of St. Vincent Frontier Cancer Center and St. Vincent Healthcare. The blue ribbon draws attention to colorectal cancer and the importance of screenings.

"I kind of blew it off for quite a while to be honest with you," Dan Holm said.

Dan Holm was 48 years old when he began to experience bleeding from his rectum and some symptoms he knew was not normal.

"Symptoms that patients have often include bright-red blood in their bowel movements, dark tar-y stool, abdominal cramping or abdominal pain that's out of the ordinary for them," Dr. Troy Fiddler said.

Troy Fiddler is a medical oncologist at St. Vincent Frontier Center in Billings and Holms' doctor after Holm found out he had stage II colorectal cancer in January 2017.

"The weirdest thing was it didn't hit me hard at the beginning," Holm said. "My brother was there with me and I signed some papers. As we were walking, I said 'I guess I got cancer.'"

Dr. Fiddler said the National Cancer Society has initiated a goal for every state to have an 80 percent screening rate. He said Montana's rate is at 62 percent.

"We're the low-tier group," Dr. Fiddler said. "We're right there with Wyoming, Arkansas, and Oklahoma as to the lowest screening rates and we need to improve on this."

After a year of treatments including: surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiology, Holm became cancer-free last December.

"I had a great support group," Holm said. "My ex-wife, my kids, and her family as well. My brother and my sister-in-law too."

Dr. Fiddler said 90 percent of colon cancer patients diagnosed in the United States occur at the age of fifty or older.

"I almost believe you need to be 45 or even younger," Holm said. "Get in and get checked. The sooner you find it, there's a lot of stuff you won't have to go through."

"We need a screening for these folks because this is preventable," Fiddler said.

Fiddler said in Montana, about 500 individuals will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year.

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