Colorectal Cancer Screenings Can Save Lives

Article Contributed by
Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services is urging everyone to talk to their doctor about testing options for colorectal cancer, also referred to as colon cancer. With recommended screening, the number of people who die from colorectal cancer could be reduced by at least 60 percent.
When colorectal cancer is found and treated early, it can often be cured. In some cases, screening can prevent the development of colorectal cancer by finding polyps (growths that can turn into cancer) so they can be removed before they become cancerous. Yet colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in New York State. Each year, more than 9,000 New Yorkers develop colorectal cancer and more than 3,000 die as a result. On average, Chautauqua County accounts for 76 new cases of colorectal cancer, and 29 deaths each year.
“Colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms, especially at first, which is why regular screening is needed to catch the disease in its earliest stages,” said Christine Schuyler, Director of Health and Human Services. “We want people to know there is more than one screening test for colorectal cancer and screening is easier than ever. The important thing to remember is to talk to your doctor, decide which screening test is right for you, and get screened. For anyone without a doctor or without insurance, the Cancer Services Program (CSP) of Chautauqua County can help.
All men and women age 50 and older should get screened for colorectal cancer. Anyone with a personal or family history of colon polyps, colorectal cancer, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, is at higher risk for developing colorectal cancer. These individuals should talk to their doctors about when to begin screening and how often they should be tested. In addition, men and women of any age with blood in their stool, weight loss without knowing why or a change in their bowel habits including aches and pains that do not go away should talk to their doctor.
For individuals insured through Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial health plans, including those participating in the New York State of Health, colorectal cancer screening is covered with no cost to the patient.
To learn more about screening options, visit http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/colorectal/screening.htm.
The CSP of Chautauqua County offers colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screening to eligible uninsured individuals. To find a local Cancer Services Program near you, visit http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/services/community_resources/ or call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262).