to rotate health display
The eleven medical and physical therapy clinics administered by St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley Hospitals are rotating informational displays about colorectal cancer. Both facilities are members of the North Central District Health Department’s Colorectal Cancer Coalition which began meeting in January, 2007. The goal of the coalition is to raise awareness about the importance of screenings to detect this preventable disease. The displays will be set up in patient reception areas. Free handouts will also be available.
According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, a non profit agency based in Florida, one out of 18 people in the United States will develop colon cancer. Almost all cases of colorectal cancer begin with the development of colorectal polyps. Polyps form when cells lining the colon grow, divide and reproduce in a disorderly way producing a growth. Some polyps contain cells that become malignant or cancerous. Left to grow long enough these cells will invade the intestinal wall and eventually spread to other parts of the body.
Regular screening can detect colorectal polyps and early cancers, said Dr. Andrew Jones, SMHC physician. People with colorectal polyps and early-stage cancers often have no symptoms at all. That is why screening is essential. “It’s one of the few cancers that we can prevent because we have the means to find polyps before they become cancerous.”
The American Cancer Society recommends that screening starts at age 50 for all men and women at average risk or before the age of 50 for people who have a history of colorectal polyps or chronic inflammatory bowel disease or a first degree relative with colorectal cancer.
Both Clearwater Valley and St. Mary’s Hospital offer colonoscopies, a procedure that uses a slender, flexible, lighted tube to examine the inside walls of the colon. If polyps, growths or abnormalities are found they can be removed during the same procedure. Removal of the polyps or polypectomy eliminates or greatly reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.
“Patients should talk to their provider about what type of screening is most appropriate for them,” said Dr. Jones. “The procedures are not complicated and can certainly save a person’s life if polyps are found in their early stages or before they become cancerous.”
The Colorectal Cancer Coalition can provide display materials and handouts to interested community groups. They also have a free DVD available that describes the various screenings. For more information on the coalition or materials call North Central District Health Department, 208.799.0368.