Article Contributed by
Cancer Services Program of Chautauqua County
The Cancer Services Program of Chautauqua County (CSP) is teaming up with local organizations to “Turn CHQ Blue” in March to raise awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening and early detection. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and blue is the universally-recognized color for colorectal cancer. CHQ is short for Chautauqua. That’s where the initiative name comes from.
“If you see a local business or private residence displaying a blue light, you’ll know they support education about colorectal cancer and screening,” said Christine Schuyler, Commissioner of Health and Human Services. “They are partnering with the CSP to provide life-saving cancer screening information to the public. Our shared goal is to encourage more community members to get tested for colon cancer by spreading the message that this disease is preventable.
UPMC Chautauqua WCA, The Resource Center, TLC Health Network, Brooks Memorial Hospital, Chautauqua Mall, Chautauqua County Office for the Aging, Dr. Joe Askar, and Cassadaga Job Corps are among the organizations that will join Chautauqua County in signing the 80% by 2018 Pledge. The pledge represents a commitment to work toward increasing the number of people screened, substantially reducing colorectal cancer as a major public health problem. The goal is to have 80 percent of our eligible population screened for colon cancer by 2018. The official pledge signing is on March 17 at 11 a.m. in the Legislative Chambers, 3rd floor, Gerace Office Building, 3 N. Erie St. in Mayville. If you would like to sign the pledge, but cannot attend the official pledge signing, you can take the pledge online at www.nccrt.org/tools/80-percent-by-2018 or by contacting CSP at 800-506-9185.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in New York State, but it doesn’t have to be — regular screening can prevent colorectal cancer. Screening tests can often detect the growths (polyps) that turn into cancer. These growths can then be removed before they turn into cancer. If colon cancer is found early, treatment can be very effective.
“Colorectal cancer is one of the only cancers that can be detected and prevented through screening before it even starts,” said Schuyler. “Colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms, especially at first, which is another reason regular screening is necessary to catch the disease in its earliest stages.”
All men and women age 50 and older should get screened for colorectal cancer. Although this disease can occur at any age, most people who develop colorectal cancer are over age 50. 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.
“People at higher risk for colorectal cancer may need earlier or more frequent tests than other people,” said Schuyler. “The important thing to remember is to talk to your doctor, decide which screening test is right for you, and complete the screening. There is more than one way to screen for colorectal cancer and screening is easier than ever. For anyone without a doctor or without insurance, the Cancer Services Program of Chautauqua County can help.”
The CSP of Chautauqua County is part of the New York State Department of Health’s Cancer Services Program. CSP offers colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screening to eligible uninsured individuals in every county in the state. To find a local Cancer Services Program near you, visit www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/services/community_resources/ or call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262).
To learn more about screening options, visit http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/colorectal/screening.htm.