Education and Screening Led to Early Detection of Colon Tumor

Jean Brown


Education about cancer risks and symptoms often leads patients to catch warning signs on their own — such as abnormal bleeding, bowel changes, and weight loss.

Member Jean Brown noticed blood in the toilet one morning in 2002 and knew she needed to contact her Group Health family physician, James Bergman, MD, right away.

"I saw him that day and he referred me for a sigmoidoscopy the next day, which led to the discovery that I had a weird and rare malignant tumor," says Brown. Two months later, after more tests to determine the exact identity of the tumor and the best treatment for the growth, it was removed. Because it was detected early, no chemotherapy or radiation was needed.

Most cancers are discovered through preventive screening, but others are caught during routine office visits, Dr. Bergman says.

Group Health personal physicians serve as team leaders for their patients in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. That bond, based on trust and continuity of care, makes for more successful outcomes, says Dr. Bergman, who sees patients at Factoria Medical Center.

"The better we know our patients, the better they do. We listen to them, educate them, answer their questions, and address their concerns. We discuss all the options, and their personal preferences, and make decisions together."

Patients find that support gratifying. As cancer survivor Jean Brown puts it, "They cared for me as a whole person — not only my body, but my mind, heart, and dignity. It was a miraculous two months in my life."

POSTED: July 2009

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