From the Harford County Health Department:
In observance of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month in March, the Harford County Health Department reminds the public of the importance of getting screened for colorectal cancer.
Next to lung cancer, this disease claims the lives of more Maryland residents than any other form of cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates 2,420 new cases and 940 deaths will occur in Maryland in 2012 due to colorectal cancer, which often is referred to as a “silent killer” because it seldom exhibits any signs or symptoms at the outset.
“It is important for everyone to know that early screening is the most valuable form of protection against this dreaded disease,” states Elaine Krajewski, R.N., Supervisor of the Harford County Health Department Cancer Prevention Services Unit. “Incidence rates of colon and rectal cancer are going down because of early screening. However, despite the benefits of early screening, many people who should be screened never get these test(s) that can identify colon cancer in its early and curable stages.”
The American Cancer Society recommends testing for all people ages 50 years and over, and before 50 years of age for people with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps (small growths that can turn into cancer), and individuals with a history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn colitis). Women with cancer of the ovary or endometrium before the age of 50 also need to start testing earlier and are encouraged to speak with their primary care physician for more specific screening recommendations.
“Health care providers, particularly primary care providers, play an important role in reducing colorectal cancer. According to the Maryland Cancer Survey, of the people who reported that their providers recommended colorectal cancer screening, 85% of them got screened,” continues Ms. Krajewski, who also strongly advises persons to approach their doctors about getting screened for colorectal cancer rather than waiting for their doctors to speak with them.
For more information about colorectal cancer and the availability of no-cost colorectal cancer screening for qualifying individuals, persons may visit the Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com or contact the Cancer Prevention Services office at 410-612-1780.