From Broome County Health Department:
Binghamton is going “blue” for National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout the month of March, businesses on Court Street in Binghamton will be displaying blue decorations in their store fronts in recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Participating businesses include River Read Books, Old World Deli, J&A Discounts, Friend’s Groceries, Sall-Stearns Fine Men’s Clothing and Tailoring, First Niagra, Uptown Style and Spa, Imagicka, Sip of Seattle, Ellis Brother’s and Joseph Inc., and Despina’s Mediterranean Taste. This initiative of the Cancer Services Program of Broome, Tioga and Chenango Counties is part of a statewide campaign called Main Streets Go Blue, led by the New York State Cancer Services Program. The Cancer Services Program of Broome, Tioga and Chenango Counties are encouraging other businesses in the area to participate in the initiative as well.
Information about colorectal cancer and about free cancer screenings provided by the Cancer Services Program will be available at each participating business in Binghamton. The Cancer Services Program of Broome, Chenango & Tioga Counties urges men and women over age 50 to get screened for colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States, excluding skin cancers, and the third leading cause of cancer-related death in New York State. It is also the most treatable if detected early on through regular screenings. Approximately 11,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year in New York, and 4,000 men and women die from the disease annually. Each year, an estimated 194 adults are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in Broome, Chenango and Tioga counties combined, resulting in about 63 annual deaths.
Colorectal cancer is the term used for cancers that start in the colon or the rectum. These cancers often start as a small growth called a polyp, long before symptoms appear. A polyp is a growth of tissue or tumor that grows on the lining of the colon or rectum. Some polyps become cancerous over time. Screening tests can prevent cancer by finding polyps so that they can be removed before they become cancerous. Carrie Abbott, supervisor of the Cancer Services Program, urges you to lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer by getting screened, eating a healthy diet, abstaining from tobacco and alcohol use, and exercising regularly.
All men and women ages 50 and older should be screened for colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer can affect anyone, and the risk increases with age. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 90 percent of colon cancer cases occur in people aged 50 and older. Early detection of colorectal cancer saves lives; at least 3 out of 5 deaths from colon cancer could be prevented if every adult aged 50 years and older got tested regularly.
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.
Sherman Wood, age 51, is a self-employed general contractor living in Binghamton. Sherman has no health insurance, and when he started experiencing severe abdominal pain and other intestinal symptoms, he was afraid he had cancer, and didn’t know where to turn. Sherman has a history of ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, but had never before experienced such severe symptoms. His wife, Rosalie, is a long-time client of the Cancer Services Program for breast and cervical cancer screenings. She saw a television ad for the free colorectal cancer screenings offered through the program, and immediately called to see if Sherman was eligible for a colonoscopy. Sherman became a client of the Cancer Services Program early in 2012, and by June, had been seen for a colonoscopy, which he reports was a pain-free experience. Sherman’s doctor determined that his abdominal pain was due to a flare up of his existing ulcerative colitis, and that he did not have cancer. Sherman states that he is now doing very well, and that he was very relieved after his colonoscopy. He says, “The Cancer Services Program is a great service to have. Without their services, chances are that more people would die through not finding out [if they have cancer]. It’s foolish not to take advantage of this program if you can; if you don’t have the screening done, it may be too late. My experience with the Cancer Services Program was excellent, and they did everything they could to make the process run smoothly.”
Sherman’s wife, Rosalie, is glad she called the Cancer Services Program on his behalf, and that her worries could be put to rest. She adds that, “The screening process is quick, easy, and effortless. Everyone should get screened because it can save your life. This is a wonderful program, and really puts your mind at ease, because these procedures are very expensive when you’re uninsured.”
Talking with your healthcare provider is important when it comes to preventing colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is easily treated and often curable when detected early. The screening tests are often covered by Medicare and many health insurers. If you are uninsured or have a large co-pay, call the Cancer Services Program of Broome, Chenango & Tioga Counties toll-free at 1-877-276-1019 for more information about colorectal cancer, or to find out if you are eligible for a free screening. The Cancer Services Program also offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings to women aged 40 and older.