Opinion: Help increase colorectal cancer screenings in St. Lawrence County, Cancer Services Program official says
Friday, August 11, 2017 - 8:01 am

To the Editor:

Colorectal cancer screening has been proven to save lives. The Health Initaitive pledges to help increase colorectal cancer screening rates by supporting the 80% by 2018 initiative. 80% by 2018 is a shared goal to have 80% of adults aged 50 and older regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018 led by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (an organization co-founded by ACS and CDC).

Colorectal cancer is the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths; however it is one of only a few cancers that can be prevented. Through proper colorectal cancer screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called “polyps”) in the colon, before they become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether.

“80% by 2018” is a National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) initiative in which over five hundred organizations have committed to substantially reducing colorectal cancer as a major public health problem and are working toward the shared goal of 80% of adults aged 50 and older being regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. Leading public health organizations, such as ACS, CDC and the NCCRT are rallying organizations to embrace this shared goal.

“Colorectal cancer is a major public health problem, and adults age 50 and older should be regularly screened for it, but we have found that many people aren’t getting tested because they don’t believe they are at risk, don’t understand that there are testing options or don’t think they can afford it,” said Courtney Patterson, the agency’s Cancer Services Program Case Manager. “The truth is that the vast majority of cases of colorectal cancer occur in people age 50 and older. Colorectal cancer in its’ early stages usually has no symptoms, so everyone 50 and older should get tested. There are several screening options – even take home options – available. Plus, many public and private insurance plans cover colorectal cancer screening and there may be local resources available to help those that are uninsured.”

While colorectal cancer incidence rates have dropped 30 percent in the U.S. over the last 10 years among adults 50 and older, it is still the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S, despite being highly preventable, detectable and treatable. In fact, in 2015 in the U.S., 132,700 cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed.

Part of the 80% by 2018 goal is to leverage the energy of multiple and diverse partners to empower communities, patients, providers to increase screening rates. The 80 percent by 2018 initiative consists of health care providers, health systems, communities, businesses, community health centers, government, non-profit organizations and patient advocacy groups who are committed to getting more people screened for colorectal cancer to prevent more cancers and save lives.

“We are thrilled to be part of the cause to improve colorectal cancer screening rates,” said Ms. Patterson. “We are asking all members of our community to come together and help us by getting screened and talking to your friends and family who are over 50 years of age about getting screened. Together, we can help to eliminate colorectal cancer as a major public health problem; afterall early detection saves lives!”

To take your 80 percent by 2018 pledge visit http://nccrt.org/tools/80-percent-by-2018/80- percent-by-2018-pledge/

"The Health Initiative measurably improves the health of St. Lawrence County residents, and the residents of the North Country Region, through collaborative community efforts." To learn more about the Health Initiative visit www.gethealthyslc.org or call (315) 261-4760.

Courtney Patterson

Cancer Services Program, case manager