Walter Roussell first crossed paths with Daniel “Stony” Anderson in the late 1980s when Anderson dropped into his salon for a haircut. Both retired from the military, they shared experiences and struck up a friendship.
Twenty-five years later, that friendship proved to be life-changing for Roussell. By then, Anderson had become a gastroenterologist at Kaiser Permanente San Diego — and a champion for regular colorectal screenings — and he urged his friend to stay up-to-date.
In 2012, Roussell had a colonoscopy and learned that a cancerous tumor had broken through the wall of his colon.
“I was hoping we had been lucky enough to catch it very early,” said Dr. Anderson, “but that wasn’t the case.” And in the months that followed, he worked with Roussell’s care team to aggressively treat the cancer with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Physicians like Dr. Anderson have helped Kaiser Permanente earn a reputation for excellence in preventing and treating colorectal cancer:
Six years after his diagnosis, Roussell is cancer-free and relishes the time he spends playing with his granddaughter and relaxing at his mountain cabin.
“Not many people have a friend who’s willing to give you bad news and who will stick with you,” he said of Dr. Anderson. “That friend, I will never forget.”
About 1 in 20 people will develop colon cancer at some point in their life, usually after the age of 50.
Most early stage colon cancers don’t cause symptoms. That’s why we recommend routine screening, starting at age 50, for people at normal risk. People at higher risk, including those with a family history of colon cancer, should be tested sooner. Talk to your doctor about when you should be tested.
There are several screening tests available. The two most commonly offered are the FIT test (done annually) or colonoscopy (done every 10 years).
Here are some other steps you can take to reduce your risk of colon cancer while improving your health: