County to Promote Screening Initiative for “At Risk” Residents

American Cancer Society logoGOSHEN – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Health Commissioner Dr. Eli Avila announced recently their commitment to implement changes and build awareness that will increase colorectal cancer screening rates in Orange County.

The national percentage of adults 50 and over that are up to date with recommended colorectal cancer screening has increased from 56 percent in 2002 to 65 percent in 2010.  In New York State, 69.3 percent have been screened; and in Orange County that number is 58.1 percent.

“By focusing on target audiences such as the newly insured, the financially challenged, and communities with statistically higher rates of colorectal cancer such as African Americans and Hispanics, Orange County is poised to achieve increased screening rates for colorectal cancer by 2018,” Dr. Avila said.

This announcement celebrates Orange County’s effort to contribute to the national goal of 80 percent colorectal screening rate by 2018.  The “80 by 2018” shared goal is led by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT).  The Roundtable was started by the American Cancer Society and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1997.

This announcement also coincides with National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which runs through the month of March. The Orange County Department of Health supports these cancer prevention efforts and encourages residents to have age-appropriate colorectal cancer screenings performed as directed by their healthcare providers.

“Colorectal cancer awareness and screening is something we all must take seriously,” Dr. Avila said. “Proper education and screening can save lives. The government should serve as a leader in increasing awareness, facilitating patient/physician engagement and promoting prevention for all residents.”

The American Cancer Society concurs with Dr. Avila. “While a combination of earlier detection and better treatments have yielded a steady decline in the colorectal cancer death rate over the past 20 years, more than 1 in 3 adults in the United States who fall within recommended screening guidelines are still not being tested for colorectal cancer. That means the risk continues, and people who need treatment may not be getting it,” said Alvaro Carrascal, Vice President of Health Systems with the American Cancer Society. “The good news is that screening can help find and prevent colorectal cancer.”

“There are several screening options to detect colorectal cancer early on, including simple take-home options,” Neuhaus said.  “To prevent cancer and save more lives I am asking all members of our community to come together and help us by getting screened and talking with friends and family who are over 50 years of age about getting screened.”

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States when men and women are combined; however, it is one of only a few cancers that can be prevented.  Through colorectal cancer screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called “polyps”) in the colon, before they become cancerous.

This year an estimated 135,000 people (including 8,370 New Yorkers) will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and nearly 50,000 (including 2,830 New Yorkers) will succumb to the disease.

“I applaud Dr. Avila for aggressively pursuing this important initiative,” added Neuhaus.  “The Orange County Health Department and I look forward to working with the American Cancer Society in fighting this serious disease.”

For more information about colorectal cancer screening, please visit www.cancer.org/colon or contact the American Cancer Society at 800.227.2345.

For more information on the 80 by 2018 initiative, visit www.nccrt.org.