From the Harford County Health Department:
Since 2000, when March officially was dedicated National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, thousands of patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates throughout the country have rallied together to inform the public about this second leading cancer killer in Maryland and across the nation. The Harford County Health Department wants the public to understand the importance of screening and prevention as a lifesaving, personal health issue 365 days a year.
The American Cancer Society estimates 2,360 new cases and 860 deaths will occur statewide in 2015. The deadly disease is among those often referred to as “silent killers.” It usually does not produce symptoms in its early stages and someone with the disease can look healthy, feel fine, and not know there may be a problem. However, once symptoms appear (like blood in the stool, pain, change in bowel habits, or an unexplained abdominal mass), the cancer may have grown through the wall of the colon and spread to lymph nodes, making it harder to treat and cure.
Harford County Health Officer Susan Kelly states, “Early screening is the most valuable form of protection against colorectal cancer and disease rates are going down as a direct result of early screening.
About a third of adults aged 50-75 are not up-to-date with recommended colorectal cancer screening. Once people know the benefits of early colorectal cancer screening and the services available to them, they are more open to the idea of being screened,” continued Susan Kelly.
People ages 50 and over should be screened for colorectal cancer. During the procedure, doctors can remove polyps in the large intestine, also called adenomas, before they can turn into cancer. Individuals with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps, people with history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s colitis), and women with cancer of the ovary or endometrium need to start screening before they are 50 years old. Susan Twigg, R.N., Cigarette Restitution Fund (CRF) Cancer Program Manager, urges, “Don’t wait for your doctor to speak with you. Ask your doctor if you should be tested for colorectal cancer.”
For more information about colorectal cancer and the availability of colorectal cancer screening for qualifying individuals, contact the Harford County Health Department’s Office of Cancer Prevention Services at 410-612-1780 or visit the Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com.