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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman are recognizing March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and they encourage residents to have age-appropriate colorectal cancer screenings as directed by their healthcare providers.
“Colonoscopies are the best way to detect colorectal cancer early and can save lives,” Neuhaus said. “There are several screening options for early detection of colorectal cancer, including simple take-home tests. According to the American Cancer Society, a colonoscopy at age 50 can significantly lower the risk of advanced colorectal cancer and death.”
Since its inception in 2000, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month has become a rallying point in the fight against colon cancer. Thousands of patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates join together to spread colon cancer awareness by wearing blue, holding fundraising and education events, and talking to friends and family about screening. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer is the nation’s third-leading cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S. among cancers that affect men and women.
The disease is expected to be the cause of approximately 51,020 deaths during 2019. The ACS recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. This can be done either with a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool (a stool-based test), or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam). Through colorectal cancer screening, doctors can detect and remove hidden growths (called “polyps”) in the colon, before they become cancerous.
“Colorectal cancer awareness and screening is something we all must take seriously,” Dr. Gelman said. “Proper education and screening can save lives, and early detection can substantially improve your outcome when battling this disease.”
Utilizing the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), the County’s Health Department Division of Community Health Outreach has incorporated a screening component to their worksite wellness programs. The division will collaborate with worksites to help them develop policies, systems and environmental approaches to increase access to multiple types of cancer screenings, including allowing time for employees to get appropriate screenings.
The American Cancer Society notes that the colorectal cancer death rate in this country could be cut in half if Americans simply followed recommended screening guidelines. Almost 23 million Americans between 50 and 75 years old do not get tested for colorectal cancer as recommended. Colorectal cancer is most often found among people 50 years or older but can occur at any age.
For more information about colorectal cancer screening, please visit www.cancer.org/colon or contact the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345. If you are uninsured or your health insurance does not cover the cost of colorectal cancer screening, contact Orange County Cancer Services Program for more information on no-cost screenings at 845-561-8050, ext. 10.