It could be a matter of life and death.

The thought of getting a colonoscopy is unnerving to many of us.

It could be a matter of life and death.

The thought of getting a colonoscopy is unnerving to many of us. Admittedly, it’s an invasion of our personal space. But ignoring the simple outpatient procedure could mean the difference between seeing your grandchildren graduate from high school and having them mourn your premature death.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. If detected early, however, it is one of the most curable cancers.

More than 2,000 Lake Regional patients benefit annually from colonoscopy exams, the most effective way to find and remove precancerous polyps.

And Lake Regional Auxiliary is leading the way to help Lake Regional Outpatient Department buy four state-of-the-art colonoscopes, ensuring this important screening exam is conveniently available to lake-area residents. The new Fujinon Digital Video Endoscopes would add to the department’s inventory of scopes.

The Auxiliary will host the 37th Annual Ball on Saturday, Oct. 5, at The Lodge of Four Seasons. Tickets and sponsorships are still available. All proceeds from the event will help purchase the latest technology for detecting colon cancer.

“Providing this screening procedure close to home is convenient for our patients and gives them peace of mind,” noted Dr. Kevin Byrne, who often performs colonoscopies in Lake Regional’s Outpatient Services Department.

Byrne, a gastroenterologist, and his wife, Jeannie, and Mary Lou and David Gamm are serving as honorary chairmen of the Hospital Ball.

Individuals ages 50 and older are at particular risk of developing colorectal cancer. Other risk factors include tobacco use, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, as well as a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps, inflammatory bowel disease and inherited colorectal cancer.

To reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, physicians recommend regular physical activity and exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, consuming foods high in fiber and calcium, limiting red meat and avoiding processed meats. Smoking cessation and limited consumption of alcohol also are advised.

Screenings are recommended for most people beginning at age 50 or when symptoms appear, including changes in bowel movements, rectal cramping and/or bleeding, dark patches of blood in the stool, abdominal discomfort or bloating, unexplained fatigue, loss of appetite and/or weight loss or pelvic pain. Individuals who have a family history are at greater risk and should begin screenings at an earlier age, typically 10 years before the age the family member was when diagnosed.

Individuals are encouraged to contact their physician to schedule a colonoscopy.

During the past 36 years, the event has raised nearly $2 million for Lake Regional Healthy system, benefitting the Cancer Center, Cardiac Catheterization Lab, the Emergency Department, the Family Birth Center, Surgery and more.

Sponsorship packages are available from $500 to $10,000. All sponsors will receive preferred seating.

Fore more information, contact Terri Hall at 348-8153.