Good Samaritan Promoting Screenings During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Prevention is key to fighting colon cancer and Good Samaritan encourages the community to take advantage of colorectal cancer screenings throughout March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Beginning at the age of 50, regular screening is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer.

The exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown; however, prevention and early detection are important because most colorectal cancers develop from polyps. Early detection tests for colorectal cancer can help find polyps, which can be easily removed, thereby lowering a person’s cancer risk.

“There is robust scientific evidence that shows most cases of colon cancer are preventable when patients have colonoscopies,” said Good Samaritan Gastroenterologist, Dr. Oluwagbenga Serrano. “I believe patients are hesitant to have colonoscopies because they fear it will be painful. In most cases there is no pain and the patients are under general anesthesia. A routine colonoscopy where no polyps or abnormalities are found can be performed in as little as 20 minutes.”

Before a colonoscopy, patients are asked to drink bowel cleansers the day before their exam. This is the part that most people find unpleasant, but it is temporary and a vital part of the preparation process. During a colonoscopy, the physician uses a long, flexible tubular instrument with a camera that transmits an image of the lining of the colon to see any abnormalities.

“If I see any precancerous polyps during a colonoscopy I will go ahead and remove them,” added Dr. Serrano. “This can be done the same day if the polyps are small. In some cases, the patient will need to come back for a ‘mini-surgery’ called a gastrointestinal endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) to remove the precancerous growths. This surgery used to be more invasive several years ago, but now we can remove the early-stage cancer endoscopically.”

Patients who would like to have more information about colonoscopies and would like to schedule an appointment will need to contact their primary care provider. Those who do not have a provider can call Good Samaritan’s Find A Provider hotline at 812-885-8500 or visit gshvin.org/findaprovider.

In addition to yearly colonoscopies, Good Samaritan Community Health Services encourages community members to pick up free colorectal cancer take home screening kits throughout the month of March. Community Health will be at various locations throughout Vincennes and surrounding counties offering these kits to adults over the age of 50 who visit their booth.

“Our colorectal kits detect blood in the stool,” said Debra Hardwick, Community Health Coordinator. “It is a screening test, not a diagnostic exam. We educate our patients on proper use of the kit, and take their name, address and phone number for follow-up. If we do not get the results back within two weeks, we call them for a follow-up or send a letter if we cannot get a hold of them.”

Patients send their written results to Community Health in a stamp-addressed envelope. Patients with a positive result are then referred to follow up with their primary care provider.

Those interested in learning where Community Health will be offering these kits each day in March can take a look at the events calendar on Good Samaritan’s website, www.gshvin.org, or call Community Health at 812-885-8753.

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