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Athens Woman Champions Screening After Surprise Diagnosis

Athens, Ga. (September 7, 2017) – Ann Wier Shumpert knows firsthand the importance of cancer screenings. Without them, doctors at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center may not have been able to find her colon cancer at such an early stage.

“It had been well over the recommended years since I’d had a colonoscopy,” Shumpert said. “Even though it had been so long, I was not expecting any bad results. I’d seen my primary care physician on a regular basis for a routine physical thinking that was enough, but it wasn’t.”

The results of Shumpert’s colonoscopy came back abnormal, showing a high-risk polyp in her colon. After consulting with Ashlee Kimbrell, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon at Piedmont Athens Regional, Shumpert underwent surgery with Dr. Kimbrell to have the polyp removed and learned she had stage 1 colon cancer.

“With regular screenings, we have a better chance of either preventing a cancer from developing or of finding it earlier, when it is easier to treat,” Dr. Kimbrell said. “When polyps are left in place and continue to grow, they can develop into an aggressive cancer. Before her surgery, we did not know if Ms. Shumpert’s polyp harbored cancer, and because of this we needed to do a formal colon resection to ensure no polyp tissue was left behind.”

From the time the first abnormal cells start to grow into polyps, it typically takes about 10 to 15 years for them to develop into colorectal cancer; however, once developed, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the U.S, according to American Cancer Society.

“Thankfully, all was okay and because of Dr. Kimbrell, I am now cancer free,” said Shumpert. “I feel very fortunate to have had someone as thorough, personable and compassionate as Dr. Kimbrell perform my surgery. Hopefully, she has saved me from a much more severe cancer down the road.”

In 2017, an estimated 135,430 people in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. American Cancer Society recommends that starting at age 50, men and women that are at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should receive a colonoscopy every 10 years.

For more information about colonoscopy screenings, visit piedmont.org

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