To raise awareness about the dangers of colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, Gastroenterology Associates (GA)—one of the largest gastroenterology practices on Long Island—hosts an annual gathering of doctors, staff, lawmakers, and patients at its partner outpatient facility, Long Island Center for Digestive Health (LICDH). Its goal is to decrease the incidence of colon cancer, and increase early detection. [VIDEO]
The fourth consecutive colorectal cancer awareness event—which took place during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, on March 4—featured guest speakers Dr. Robert S. Bartolomeo, Dr. Leonard B. Stein, Nassau County Legis. Rose Marie Walker, and several patients and colorectal cancer survivors. They emphasized the importance of early detection, while also praising the work of GA and LICDH.
“I’m living proof of how a colonoscopy can save your life," shared Josephine Chiarulli, a patient of Dr. Bartolomeo. "In my case, I wasn’t too worried, because there's no history of cancer in my family and I had no symptoms.
"I stand here today, 12 years later, happy to say I've been cancer free," she continued. "The one thing I'd like to stress tonight is that we cannot let our fears and anxieties stop us from doing what we know is important. It may just save your life.”
According to the nonprofit American Cancer Society, there will be more than 100,000 cases of colon cancer diagnosed this year, and 44,000 of rectal cancer. As it stands, colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and will account for 51,000 fatalities this year.
“This is still a formidable disease in this country, but it shouldn't be,” explained Dr. Bartolomeo.
Colorectal cancer rates are going down—proof awareness efforts such as those by GA and LICDH are making a positive impact.
“This is a preventable cancer,” stressed Dr. Stein, “and we can prevent it by spreading the word that there are screening tests including colonoscopy, but not only colonoscopy, that can provide early detection both incidence rates and death rates from this.”
Alternative colorectal cancer screening procedures include:
- Sigmoidoscopy: Similar to colonoscopy, a sigmoidoscopy entails the insertion of a thin tube, with a camera, into the rectum to observe only the lower portion of the colon.
- Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) and Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT): These entail testing several stool samples for traces of blood, which can be indicative of polyps or colorectal cancer, as well as other gastrointestinal abnormalities or dysfunctions.
- Double Contrast Barium Enema (DCBE): A barium-containing enema helps to make the colon and rectum visible X-rays.
- Stool DNA Tests: This is a preventative examination that tests stool for changes in DNA, which could be indicative of cancer or polyps before deciding whether a colonoscopy is necessary.
Nassau County Legis. Rose Mary Walker, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2012, participates in GA’s annual press conferences to return the favor to doctors who gave her a new lease on life.
“I am a six-year colon cancer survivor, and from the get-go, I was determined that it wasn’t going to get me," she said. "I had great doctors, and I can’t say enough about each and every one of them. I went through a rough time, but I’m here and I’m doing great.”
Gastroenterology Associates (GA) is a renowned private group gastroenterology practice in Garden City, NY specializing in high-quality digestive healthcare for patients experiencing a wide range of disorders. Long Island Center for Digestive Health (LICDH) is a distinguished non-hospital outpatient facility providing advanced diagnostic testing and procedures including upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, and more. Together, they offer patients a unique digestive health experience defined by comfort, convenience, and exceptional, personalized quality care.
To learn more, or to schedule your screening, contact us today. It could just save your life. Don’t wait.