45 is the New 50!

How a Colonoscopy Screening Likely Saved a Patient’s Life

Published 3/25/2024
Written By Laura Montenegro, Director, Communications & Public Relations

For her 45th birthday, Alexandra Bruttaniti received a life-saving gift—a referral from her doctor to get a screening colonoscopy.  

Bruttaniti made the appointment with CMC Gastroenterologist, Dr. Hatem Shoukeir. After she awoke from the procedure, she was shocked to learn that Dr. Shoukeir removed a large, seven-centimeter advanced precancerous polyp. She had no family history of colon cancer. 

“There is no doubt that if left alone, this polyp would have become cancer and she would be facing a very different set of health circumstances,” stated Dr. Shoukeir. 

In honor of March being Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Bruttaniti was happy to share her story. “Saving even one person makes telling the story worth it. It’s a big deal. I’ve been telling everyone I know and I booked my husband an appointment like, the day after.”   

In 2021, the United States Preventative Task Force updated their recommendations to state that people at average risk of colon cancer should begin getting screening colonoscopies five years earlier—at 45 years old rather than waiting until 50. The change was made because colorectal cancer has been on the rise in younger people. 

In Bruttaniti’s case the new guidelines likely saved her from getting cancer. “She is fortunate that her primary care provider informed her of the change to the recommended age for a first screening. She had no symptoms and no one in her family had had colon cancer. It could have been a very different outcome had she waited,” noted Dr. Shoukeir.

The next step for Bruttaniti is genetic testing to determine if others in her family should be warned of a greater risk for cancer. Bruttaniti is grateful for Dr. Shoukeir’s individualized care and attention. “He’s taken such good care of me. He always calls me to answer my questions and makes me feel like I’m not just another patient. I appreciate that he’s so very thorough. And the fact he has a great sense of humor puts me at ease. I’m very lucky.

“We all have that fear that they might find something. But at least if they find it early enough, they can treat it.  It can literally be life-saving,” Bruttaniti stated. 

Dr. Shoukeir and his team can be reached at NH Gastroenterology at 603.625.5744.  

In the photo: Dr. Hatem Shoukeir and Alexandra Bruttaniti on the skybridge at CMC.