Noyes News and Events

February 24, 2017

Everybody is Going Blue!

On March 3rd, Noyes Health employees will go blue!  Employees will be donning blue tutus, wigs, leggings, beads, and other fun gear to bring attention and awareness to Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In addition, Noyes Goes Blue events will be held at  Noyes Health Services in Geneseo and Noyes Health in Dansville from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on March 3rd.  The public is invited to stop by and learn more about colorectal cancer.  Medical professionals will be available to discuss risk factors, screening options, and more.  There will be blue ribbon cookies plus healthy snacks and everyone who visits will have their name entered for a chance to win a wellness basket.  

According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year 136,830 people will be diagnosed and 50,310 will die from this disease.  In the same breath, the five-year survival rate is 90% if cancer is found at the local (early) stage. But sadly, only 39% of colorectal cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, partly due to low testing rates.  Screening is important because it can find polyps (abnormal growths).  Those growths can then be removed before turning into cancer.  Currently, 28 million Americans are not up-to-date on screening.  In New York alone, an estimated 1.2 million have never been tested.  It is estimated that screening would reduce the number of colon cancer deaths by 60%.

The CDC states that precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. If you have symptoms, they may include—

  • Change in bowel movements - Including diarrhea, constipation, a change in the consistency of your stool or finding your stools are narrower than usual

  • Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement).

  • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away.  Losing weight and you don’t know why.

  • weakness or fatigue

These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you have any of them, see your doctor.

There are several colorectal cancer screening choices for average-risk men and women ages 50-75:

  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT) – This at-home test should be done once a year.  The patient sends a stool sample to a doctor’s office or lab. It looks for hidden blood in stool.  Positive results should be followed up by a colonoscopy.   OR

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – The doctor looks for polyps or cancer in the rectum and lower third of the colon.  This should be done every 5 years with a high-sensitivity FOBT or every 3 years by itself.   OR

  • Colonoscopy – The doctor looks for polyps or cancer in the rectum and the entire colon and removes polyps during the same procedure.  This should be done every 10 years.  

 

Which screening is best for you?  The one you do!! Discuss the options with your physician to determine what makes the most sense for you.  If you or a close relative have: inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis; a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps; a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome), contact your physician.  You may need to start screening before age 50 and be tested more often than other people.  

 

In addition to screening, a healthy lifestyle lowers your risk not only for colorectal cancer but for other cancers and chronic diseases as well.  The American Cancer Society suggests the following management strategies.

 

DO:

LIMIT:

  • Processed foods, junk foods, fatty meats, and refined sugar products like cookies, candy, and cake.

  • Screen and couch time.  According to a new Nielsen report, Americans spend almost 8 hours per day with some kind of screen device.   Limiting screen time may improve physical and psychological health.

  • Alcohol and soda.

If you would like more information about screening, go to: New York State’s Department of Health website at https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/colorectal/ or locally, call the Cancer Services Program of Livingston and Wyoming Counties at 800-588-8670.  If you are uninsured, the Cancer Services Program can also assist you with free screenings as well as insurance information.  

Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at URMC Noyes Health in Dansville.  If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327.