MAYVILLE - In recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Christine Schuyler, County Director of Health & Human Services, urges men and women over age 50 to get screened for colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer - cancer that begins in the colon or rectum - is one of the most common cancers among New Yorkers. It is estimated that one in 20 people will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime.
"Each year in New York state, more than 10,000 people develop cancer of the colon and rectum, and nearly 3,500 New Yorkers die from this disease," Schuyler said.
However, a large number of New Yorkers are still not aware of their risk and many are not being screened at recommended intervals. Colorectal cancer often can be prevented. Regular screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
Colorectal cancer can affect anyone, men and women alike, but the risk increases with age. Approximately 60 percent of people newly diagnosed with cancer of the colon and rectum are age 65 and over.
Some people are at greater risk for the disease than others such as those with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, history of intestinal polyps or inflammatory bowel disease, and people with a history of certain inherited diseases, such as familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer.
Colorectal cancer can be prevented or detected early through regular screening. New Yorkers can lower their risk of developing colorectal cancer by:
Getting screened: Begin regular screening at age 50. If you have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps, or a personal history of another cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, talk to your health care provider about getting screened before age 50.
Eating healthy: Enjoy a low-fat diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains from breads, cereals, nuts, and beans. Eat foods with folate, such as green, leafy vegetables. A daily multivitamin containing 0.4mg of folic acid may also be helpful.
Kicking the habit: If you use tobacco, quit. If you don't use tobacco, don't start.
Skipping alcohol: If you use alcohol, drink only in moderation. Alcohol and tobacco in combination are linked to colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers.
Getting moving: Exercise for at least 20 minutes three to four days each week. Moderate exercise such as walking, gardening, or climbing may help reduce your risk for colorectal cancer.
"Talking with your healthcare provider about screening is vital to preventing colorectal cancer," stressed Schuyler. "Colorectal cancer is easily treated and often curable when detected early. The tests are often covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many health insurers."
The Chautauqua County Cancer Services program will be distributing free at home colon cancer test kits to individuals without health insurance at various Tops Markets locations during the month of March. Information on early detection and prevention tips will also be available.
Men and women who are uninsured or underinsured should contact their local Cancer Services Program partnership to find out how to get free colorectal cancer screening sent to their home.
Call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262) to find the cancer screening program near you. For more information about the Cancer Services Program, visit www.nyhealth.gov/cancerservicesprogram.
For more information about colorectal cancer, visit www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/abouts/colorectal.htm