In recognition of March being National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN) is launching a wellness campaign to educate and assist the community in getting screened for colon cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths annually in the United States and the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in Connecticut men and the third most common cancer diagnosed in Connecticut women. Recent statistics show that colorectal cancer rates are much higher in ECHN’s 19-town service area. However, the good news is that when colon cancer is caught early, a complete cure is possible.
Colon cancer usually begins with a polyp, or growth, in the colon. In time, polyps can become cancerous. Screening tests find these polyps early, and they can be removed before they become cancerous or before they can spread to other areas of the body. Polyps, or even early stage colon cancer, do not always produce symptoms. That is the problem. Early on, someone with a polyp or early stage cancer may not realize something is wrong until symptoms appear at a later stage when a minimally invasive treatment or cure may be unattainable. For these reasons, ECHN is joining a nationwide effort to draw attention and emphasize early detection.
The risk for colon cancer increases with age and is most often found in people over age 50. Younger men and women may also be at increased risk if they have inflammatory bowel disease, a personal or family history of polyps or colon cancer, and are genetically predisposed, as well as women with a history of reproductive cancer. Cigarette smoking, obesity and high fat diets may also increase a person’s risk for colon cancer.
ECHN’s officially titled “Campaign for Wellness” is an activity-driven campaign taking place throughout the month of March. Planned activities include:
Colon Cancer Awareness Kickoff Event – The campaign will begin with a kickoff event on Saturday, March 1, at The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk, South Windsor, in the Village Green (near Pinkberry) from 1 to 3 p.m. The public is invited. There will be refreshments, giveaways, resource information, and so much more! Bring family and friends.
Dress in Blue Day – Members of ECHN’s senior leadership and the medical, support and administrative staff will wear blue on Friday, March 7, to affirm their commitment to fighting colon cancer.
“Colon”ary Cooking Demonstration – On Wednesday, March 12, ECHN will host an evening of food, fun and interesting facts with ECHN Executive Chef Roland D. Glover, along with gastroenterologist James O’Brien, M.D., and registered dietitian Natalia Miner, RD. The event will highlight healthy eating and discuss dietary risk factors for colon cancer. Taste-testing included!
Personal Stories – Throughout the month of March, ECHN staff will share why they get screened for colon cancer. These testimonials will appear on the internal video monitors at all ECHN facilities to inspire others to get screened for this preventable, treatable and beatable disease.
Special News Features – ECHN physician specialists will be featured on local radio stations and social media, in newsprint, and in ECHN’s employee newsletter to provide education on colon cancer risk factors and why it is important to get screened.
Information and Referral Line – A nurse navigator is available to answer questions and assist community members in finding a physician. Assistance for the underinsured or uninsured is also available.
ECHN’s “Campaign for Wellness” was organized by two members of the ECHN Medical Staff, Amanda Ayers, M.D., and Monica Srodon, M.D. Dr. Ayers is a colon and rectal surgeon and a member of the medical directorship of the Eastern Connecticut Cancer Institute (ECCI). Dr. Srodon is a board-certified pathologist and also a member of the ECCI’s medical directorship. The campaign will highlight different cancer types throughout the year to raise awareness of those at risk and to facilitate screening for early detection.
Inquiries about risk factors, how and where to get screened, and resources for the uninsured can be directed to Carolina Starr-Manning, MSN, CHPN, RN, Nurse Navigator. She can be reached by telephone at 860.646.1222, Ext. 1408, or by email at email@example.com.