From the Harford County Health Department:
March is recognized across the nation as national Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society projects 2,390 new cases of colorectal cancer in Maryland during 2016 and approximately 850 deaths from the disease.
As part of this observance, the Harford County Health Department, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and community partners are educating residents about colorectal cancer and urging doctors and other health care providers to recommend colorectal cancer screening for their eligible patients.
“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,” comments Susan Twigg, R.N., Coordinator of the health department’s CRF Cancer Program. “Unlike many other life-threatening diseases, colorectal cancer does not usually produce symptoms in its early stages, so you can look healthy, feel fine and not be aware there’s a problem. When symptoms appear (such as blood in the stool, pain, change in bowel habits, or unexplained abdominal mass), the cancer may have grown through the wall of the colon and spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body, by which time it is harder to treat and cure.”
Both men and women ages 50 and older should be screened for colorectal cancer. Individuals with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps, people with medical 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. Ms. Twigg advises people not to wait for their health care providers to speak with them; rather, they should ask their doctor if they should be screened.
For more information about colorectal cancer, screening options, and the availability of financial assistance for colorectal cancer screening for qualifying individuals, contact the Harford County Health Department’s Office of Cancer Prevention Services at 410-612-1780 or visit their website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com.