to offer forums on colorectal cancer
Dr. Andrew Jones will be the featured speaker at two public forums on Colorectal Cancer in March during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The Cottonwood CRC forum will be held on Tuesday, March 11 in the SMHC downstairs conference room. The Kamiah forum will be presented on Wednesday, March 19 in the Kamiah Welcome Center. Both forums will begin at 7:00 p.m.
Free Fecal Occult Blood Test kits will be distributed to forum participants. They will be processed by the SMHC Lab at no cost. The FOBT kit tests for blood in the stool which can be a sign of colorectal cancer. The test kits provide instructions for use.
“As a doctor, it is frustrating for me sometimes because I know colorectal cancer can be prevented through screening colonoscopies where precancerous polyps can be removed and the patient receives a clean bill of health. It’s a simple procedure that can save a life, yet not everyone gets one when they should,” said Dr. Jones. “It’s one of the only cancers that can be prevented before any symptoms develop. I understand that people may not exactly look forward to the prep and the procedure, but, hey, it’s usually only once every ten years and it can save their life.”
An educational display designed by North Central District Health Department’s Colorectal Cancer Coalition will be available along with a variety of educational handouts and a free DVD that describes the colonoscopy procedure. The goal of the coalition is to increase the number of CRC screenings in District Two.
Dr. Jones and most of the other physicians at St. Mary’s perform colonoscopies on an outpatient basis at the Cottonwood facility. Last year 252 endoscopic procedures were performed. He will bring some of the hospital’s endoscopic equipment and explain the procedure and the prep.
Based on prior years data, Idaho’s Cancer Data Registry estimates that approximately 60 people in Idaho and Lewis County will be diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer over a 5 year period. Between 1997 & 2006 only about 28.6 % of Idaho County residents and 42% of Lewis County residents who should have been screened were screened.
The American Cancer Society recommends a screening colonoscopy at age 50 or earlier if there is a family history. Medicare covers several colorectal cancer screening options. The SMHC Business office can assist people with questions about Medicare and private insurance coverage, 962-3251.
Patients encourage colonoscopies
March is designated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. St. Mary’s Hospital is doing its part to raise awareness locally about this preventable disease. Dr. Andrew Jones is presenting at two public Health Matters forums, one in Cottonwood and one in Kamiah. Free occult blood testing kits will be available at the forum. They will be processed by the SMH Lab at no cost.
Colorectal cancer, or cancer of the colon or rectum, is the second leading cancer killer in the United States and Idaho. CRC usually begins with polyps which are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. The longer a polyp goes undetected, the greater the chance it will turn into cancer. Colonoscopies use laparoscopic or miniscule cameras and video screens to examine the colon and remove polyps. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis. The American Cancer Society recommends a screening colonoscopy at age 50, or sooner if there is a family history.
“I didn’t have my first colonoscopy until I was in my early 60’s and my other doctor retired. When I switched to Dr. Jones he recommended I have a colonoscopy and thank heavens I did because he found a cancerous polyp which he was able to remove,” said Don Hoene, Cottonwood patient. “There is no doubt Dr. Jones saved my life or at least made it more livable because he caught the growth before it spread. He recommended a colonoscopy each year for the following three years because of what he found on the first one. I have had five or six now and sometimes there are polyps and sometimes not. It’s a small price to pay because there’s so much to be gained and so little to lose.”
The procedure and prep is a ‘piece of cake,’ according to Hoene. I was apprehensive the first time, but the technology and the prep have changed so much. The apprehension is the only downside, especially because it’s unnecessary. It used to take three or four days to complete the flushing, but now it’s just done the day before. The doctor, nurses and anesthesiologist are so professional. They make it easy, said Hoene. “I can’t say enough good things about the hospital, the doctors and the care I receive. I hope anyone around or above the age of 50 will have a colonoscopy because it could save their life.”
Most insurance companies cover screening tests and people 50 years or older who have Medicare are eligible for colorectal cancer screening. Several screening test options are available. Dr. Andrew Jones and many of the other providers at SMHC perform colonoscopies on an outpatient basis within the hospital.
“If I automatically had a colonoscopy at age 50 I may not have developed colon cancer,” said Jim Nicol, Kamiah resident. “My wife and I were working in Yellowstone when I began developing symptoms which I thought were minor and would require a simple fix. When we returned home I went into the local clinic and after discovering blood in a fecal occult blood test the doctor immediately recommended a colonoscopy and upper GI scope. They discovered three tumors that had been growing for some time.”
According to Nicol, the pathology report confirmed cancer and after surgery he received chemotherapy treatments for five months beginning in January, 2006.
“I felt comfortable with the doctors and the medical care I received. Since my diagnosis I’ve learned to make each day count,” said Nicol who is now 59. “I would encourage everyone to talk with their health care provider and have some type of screening because the key is finding the polyps early. I’ve had two removed in my follow up colonoscopies. They were both non cancerous, but I know what might happen if they aren’t regularly removed.”
During the public forums Dr. Jones will describe the colonoscopy procedure, risk factors for CRC and other forms of screening. Free FOBT test kits will be distributed and processed at no cost. They screen for blood in the stool which can be a symptom of CRC, as well as other conditions. A display about CRC, handouts and a DVD describing the colonoscopy procedure will be available. The forum and materials are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
The forums will be held Tuesday, March 11 in Cottonwood in the SMH downstairs conference room or in Kamiah on Wednesday, March 19 at the Welcome Center on Main street. Both forums begin at 7:00 p.m.
Additional information is also available from the American Cancer Society, 1-800-ACS-2345 and www.cancer.org or the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Services at 1-800-4 CANCER and www.cancer.gov.