Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman are raising awareness of the risk factors and importance of colorectal cancer screening. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a substantial decline in cancer screening. Don’t put your health on hold; regular cancer screening can prevent colorectal cancer,” said Neuhaus. “Health care facilities are providing cancer screening during the pandemic with many safety precautions in place.”
Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. It is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. Sometimes it is called colon cancer, for short. Dr. Gelman noted the following risk factors:
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
- Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
Lifestyle factors that may contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer include:
- Lack of regular physical activity.
- A diet low in fruit and vegetables.
- A low-fiber and high-fat diet, or a diet high in processed meats.
- Overweight and obesity.
- Alcohol consumption.
- Tobacco use.
“Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum,” explained Gelman. “Such polyps can be present in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops. They may not cause any symptoms, especially early on. Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. In this way, colorectal cancer is prevented. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early when treatment works best.”
Dr. Gelman continued, “The most effective way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to get screened. If you’re 45 years or older, or have a family history of colorectal cancer, you should start getting screened.”
The Orange County Cancer Screening Collaborative is a collaboration between the Orange County Department of Health, Cornerstone Health Center, Garnet Health Medical Center, Montefiore St. Luke’s Hospital, Bon Secours Community Hospital, St. Anthony Community Hospital, RECAP, Cancer Services of the Hudson Valley, and Hudson River Healthcare. The collaborative aims to move the conversation from awareness to action by increasing breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening rates in Orange County.
The Collaborative joined forces with the SUNY Orange Visual Communications and Graphic Arts Department to develop a unified awareness campaign to promote the availability of cervical cancer screenings in Orange County. Amber-Lee Valdez designed the artwork chosen for the campaign.
For more information on colorectal cancer, available screenings, or how to become involved in the cancer collaborative, please call the Orange County Department of Health at 845-360-6680.