JACKSON, Miss. – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, but GI Associates and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have been working together for months to bring awareness and encourage appropriate screening for this devastating disease that is the nation’s second most deadly cancer killer of men and women.
According to Michelle Hill, Senior Manager of Community Engagement at the Mid-South Division of the American Cancer Society in Jackson, she is extremely excited about the strides the partnership with GI Associates has been making since last September when the alliance was forged. ACS and GIA are working on a lofty, but achievable goal of increasing colorectal screening rates to 80 percent by 2018, an initiative the Cancer Society has dubbed “80% by 2018.” If accomplished, this level of increase in screening would prevent 277,000 new cases of colon cancer and 203,000 deaths by 2030.
Currently, less than 60% of insured Mississippians 50 years old and older have been screened for colon cancer. The ACS recommends that people who are not at increased risk of colorectal cancer should be screened beginning at age 50. Anyone with a strong family history of colorectal polyps or cancer should talk to their doctor about their risks, as they may need to be screened beginning at a younger age. African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States. The reasons for this are not yet understood.
“It is vital for people to get screened,” notes Dr. Reed B. Hogan, Gastroenterologist at GI Associates. “Colon cancer is the most preventable cancer when following established screening guidelines. Too many people put off screening because they think the process will be inconvenient or uncomfortable. But, today’s preps and procedures are much more patient friendly than in the past. We at GI Associates are dedicated to doing everything we can to make sure people are aware of the risks and get the screening they need to start turning the statistics for colon cancer deaths in Mississippi in a downward direction.”
To schedule an appointment for a colonoscopy by a Board Certified Gastroenterologist, one does not have to have a physician referral. Colorectal cancer screening is an outpatient procedure and can be conducted at an endoscopy center rather than in a hospital. For more about screening visit www.cancer.org or www.gi.md or call 601-355-1234.