Usually, we're excited to get a package in the mail.

Getting packages is fun. New clothes! A fun gadget! Parts or materials for a project, a pair of brand-name sunglasses you snagged at 50% off, whatever. We usually open them right away. However, I was not excited at all when this package showed up on my porch last week. In fact, I still haven't opened it.

Like many men, it takes either a medical emergency or the urging of our spouse to go to the doctor. In my case, it's usually the latter. My wife recently made me an appointment for my annual checkup, which I had neglected for the last two years. I argued "why should I go, I feel fine?", but of course, I understand the importance of regular checkups even if everything seems fine. So the appointment was set and two weeks ago I went to our family practitioner at St. V's clinic in Laurel.

Michael Foth, TSM
Michael Foth, TSM

The usual stuff... and a surprise.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) runs in my family. The PA reminded me that I need to take my medication every day, not just when I feel like it. The phlebotomist then drew a few vials of blood to send off to the lab for routine tests. Everything looked good, except for my cholesterol. So, I've added another pill to my daily routine. But the surprise came when the PA told me that I've reached the age where I need a pre-screening for colorectal cancer. And that I'll need to poop in a box. What?!

I have so many questions.

Mainly because I haven't opened the box yet to read the instructions. How much poop do I put in the box? How do I get the sample out of the toilet? Do I use a special poop spoon or poop stick? Does the kit come with rubber poop gloves? Will the clerk at the UPS store judge me when I drop off the box with the "human specimen" marking on the side? I guess I'll let you know.

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Colon/rectal cancers are a big concern.

The American Cancer Society reports that colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common cancer among women and men in the US, excluding skin cancers. They note that 106,970 new cases of colon cancer and 46,050 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2023. Thanks to early screening (like my upcoming poop-in-a-box), rates have been dropping since the 1980s. They added,

Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 26 for women.

Health experts recommend every male 45 or older get colorectal cancer screening, be it with something like Cologuard, or with the more invasive colonoscopy. Women should consult their primary care physician for screening recommendations.

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