|Ramón Pujols, Woodhull Medical Center Patient|
Dr. William Green, an attending physician at an HHC nursing home, gets a regular colonoscopy and urges his colleagues in healthcare to do the same. Sherry Davis, a Community Coordinator at an HHC hospital in Brooklyn, has had polyps removed and is thankful to be cancer free. Ramón Pujols, an HHC patient, got help from HHC's Spanish-speaking staff who explained what to expect from the procedure and made him feel at ease.
These are some of the personal testimonials featured in this year’s HHC Colon Cancer Awareness campaign literature and video that encourage patients and staff to seek this life-saving preventive screening test once they turn 50, or earlier if so directed by their physician.
“My grandmother had cancer of the colon but luckily it was caught early and she lived a full life. That’s why I got a colonoscopy a few years ago and again this year. This time they found and removed a polyp,” said Dr. Green of Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “We all emphasize taking care of our patients and giving them everything we have, but we need to remember to take care of ourselves, too.”
The best way to beat colon cancer is to get a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy can find and remove precancerous polyps and early-stage colorectal cancer. When polyps are removed, cancer is prevented. When cancer is found early, treatment can be more effective.
HHC doctors performed 21,056 colonoscopies to screen New Yorkers for colon cancer in 2010 and removed polyps - abnormal growths in the colon or rectum – from 4,388 patients. That means polyps were found in about 21 percent of the total colonoscopies, which is in line with the national average of 15 percent for women and 25 percent for men.
Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer—cancer of the colon or rectum—is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. It is also one of the most preventable. Colorectal cancer screening saves lives. If everyone aged 50 years old or older were screened regularly, as many as 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Patient Ramón Pujols said his wife urged him to get a colonoscopy, and the staff at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center explained the procedure in Spanish and made him feel at ease. Doctors removed two polyps that were negative for cancer.
“When I got the results I felt very happy,” Pujols said. He urged all men over 50, especially Hispanic men, to get a colonoscopy. “We think if we have a colonoscopy, we’re not men. But after we have the exam and we get our results, that’s when we’re truly super-men,” he said.
“Both times I had colonoscopies the doctor found polyps and removed them,” said Sherry Davis, a Community Coordinator at Woodhull. “I got my colonoscopies because I love me and I live for my family and new grandbaby. I want to be here for her graduation and wedding. I don’t just want to live to be a grandmother, I want to live to be a great, great grandmother,” Sherry Davis said.
HHC is committed to colon cancer prevention and early detection and colonoscopies are available at little or no cost at all 11 public hospitals year round.March 2011