LAKE SUCCESS, NY – To get the word out about the importance of early screening for colorectal cancer, Northwell Health’s Cancer Institute on Tuesday displayed a 12-foot-long, blowup colon at the Monter Cancer Center, enabling patients, staff and visitors to learn more about the disease.
As part of a community education and outreach effort aimed at encouraging local residents to get colonoscopies, Cancer Institute leaders signed on to a nationwide initiative aimed at increasing colorectal screening rates for adults ages 50 and older to 80 percent by 2018. To date, more than 750 organizations nationwide have signed the pledge, sponsored by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, a national organization established by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention..
“Colon cancer is the number two cause of death in the United States, affecting both men and women equally,” said Maurice Cerulli, MD, program director for gastroenterology at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center, part of Northwell Health. “It has been proven that you can prevent colon cancer with a colonoscopy. When we find polyps in patients we take them out so that they can’t become cancer.”
Last year, more than 1,400 Long Islanders were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 481 died due to the disease, according to Gabrielle Andrea, RN, health systems manager for the ACS in Hauppauge.
“Right now in Nassau and Suffolk counties, the percentages for colorectal screenings are a little above 70 percent,” she said. “A lot of barriers to the screenings are lack of knowledge of what it entails, transportation to the screenings and lack of insurance. So, we’re trying to help with those barriers.”
Current guidelines recommend screening annually or every 5 to 10 years, depending on the screening method, starting at the age of 50. People who have a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors should talk with their health care provider and begin screening before age 50. Other risk factors include a diet high in red or processed meat, being sedentary, obesity, long-term smoking, high alcohol consumption, and low intake of fruits and vegetables.
To make an appointment for a colonoscopy with a Northwell Health provider, call 844-772-8720.