Help increase screening and prevention for colon & rectal cancer.


Faces of Blue: Milena Gould Suarez, M.D.

By March 9, 2018Faces of Blue
Milena Suarez professional

I was in my gastroenterology fellowship when I found out my grandmother had colon cancer. I had initially been drawn to the field because of the appeal of preventing cancer and with my grandmother’s diagnosis, my commitment only strengthened. The field of gastroenterology offers a unique opportunity to prevent colorectal cancer, by removing polyps before they become colorectal cancer. I was drawn to a field that allowed to me to play an important role in preventative care. I was particularly drawn to the prevention of colorectal cancer because it is so common and for most people, it can be prevented with screening.

As a gastroenterologist, I am thankful to have a job where much of my work is in prevention, but I am saddened by the days when I diagnose cancer. In addition to seeing patients, I have worked to increase community awareness of colon cancer and colon cancer screening.

Milena Suarez grandma

My grandmother (Oma is what I called her), who lived in Hollande, was the matriarch of our family. She was the mother of five children, grandmother to six grandchildren, and a great-grandmother to five great-grandchildren. She remained very active—biking, walking, and living independently—until she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She was extremely loved and cherished by her family who cared for her in her home when she was sick so that she wouldn’t have to go somewhere else for care. While she was always proud and supportive of my accomplishments, she had concerns about whether I worked too hard. Even when I got promoted one month before she died, she told my mom that she was worried that I would work too much. I try as best as I can to balance work with my family life, keeping in mind my grandmother’s wishes.

I lost my grandmother last year to colon cancer and this continues to be my biggest motivation for educating the community and other healthcare providers about colon cancer. I currently am an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), in Houston Texas.  Most of my time is spent treating patients in clinic, in the endoscopy lab or in the hospital. In addition to treating patients, I teach medical students and residents, and train gastroenterology fellows. My research interests are in colon cancer prevention, heritable colon cancer, and young colon cancer.

Milena Suarez GYRIGI have done a few radio shows with Allison Rosen (a colon cancer survivor, GYRIG race director, and BCM colleague) to raise awareness about colorectal cancer and screening. In addition, I work closely with BCM’s Office of Outreach and Health Disparities, and have been the leader of BCM’s colorectal cancer clinical advisory board since 2011. As part of a Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) funded grant, I have overseen development of patient education materials including written colonoscopy preparation instructions, colon cancer awareness community plays, and production of a colonoscopy preparation video.


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