|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2005
COLONOSCOPIES AT CITY HOSPITALS DOUBLE IN 2004; BLACKS IN NYC STILL HAVE LOWEST SCREENING RATES AND HIGHEST COLON CANCER DEATH RATES
March Is Colon Cancer Awareness Month
NEW YORK CITY - March 14, 2005 The number of tests to prevent and find colon cancer done at New York City’s public hospitals have more than doubled, to more than 9,880 last year, preventing hundreds of additional cases of cancer and preventing scores of colon cancer deaths in the years to come. More than one quarter of the screenings took place at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, where today’s announcement was made. Officials attributed the increase to system enhancements and wide-scale public awareness campaigns about the importance of colon cancer screenings for New Yorkers ages 50 and over. However, black New Yorkers remain at highest risk from death due to colon cancer.
Joining Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) Acting President Alan D. Aviles were New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago; Dr. Mary Bassett, Deputy Commissioner for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH); Dr. Van Dunn, HHC Senior Vice President; José R. Sánchez, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of HHC's Lincoln Hospital; Dr. Melissa Schori, Medical Director of Lincoln Hospital; and Hector Batista, Executive Vice President of the American Cancer Society (ACS), as well as people who have undergone colon cancer screenings.
HHC Acting President Alan Aviles said, "The wonderful news is that we have convinced many New Yorkers over the age of 50 to get a colonoscopy screening. As the result of our first outreach campaign, we more than doubled our screening numbers, and a greater percentage of the cancers we identified were in the early stages. Colonoscopy screening prevents cancer and saves lives. This year, with additional funding from the Health Department, we are redoubling our efforts to reach even more New Yorkers, especially those at high risk for developing colon cancer. Our campaign materials are now available in 11 languages, and we are getting the word out in communities throughout the City."
"Last year, more than 1,600 New Yorkers died from colon cancer – and most of these deaths could have been prevented," said DOHMH Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. "We are making progress, but much more can be done. Only half of New Yorkers over age 50 have been screened, and there remains a high death rate from colon cancer – and the lowest colorectal cancer screening rates – among black New Yorkers. Increasing colon cancer screenings is a top priority of our Take Care New York health policy initiative. Every New Yorker over 50, as well as New Yorkers over 40, should be screened for colon cancer. We will continue to work with HHC, the American Cancer Society and our community and medical partners to raise awareness and to stop this preventable disease."
HHC presented data showing the results of a large-scale colorectal cancer awareness campaign by HHC and DOHMH launched in 2004 in both Spanish and English. The number of colonoscopy screenings at HHC facilities more than doubled from 4,585 in 2003 to 9,888 in 2004. The screening outcomes resulted in the detection of 237 cancers, 67% of them early stage cancers (0, 1, 2). At Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, the number of screenings increased from 778 in 2002 to 2,706 in 2004. Mr. José R. Sánchez, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Lincoln Hospital said, "Disparities in health outcomes for certain racial and ethnic groups are a sad reality in this city and throughout the nation. HHC hospitals and health care professionals have increased access to life saving early detection procedures and continue to work towards meeting the critical health needs of all New Yorkers by eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare outcomes."
Dr. Melissa Schori, Lincoln Hospital Medical Director, said: "Increasing the colorectal cancer screening rates will prevent colorectal cancer and save lives. Our goal was to increase the number of colonoscopies performed, to increase the number of adenomatous polyps removed, and to detect cancers at an earlier stage. Adding bilingual patient navigators, improving the operational efficiencies of the GI suite, implementing a direct endoscopic referral system and maximizing staff efficiency led to a sustained increase in colonoscopies performed, adenomatous polyps detected and a shift in cancer detected to an earlier stage."
Hector Batista, Executive Vice President of the American Cancer Society, said, "Getting a colonoscopy can save your life. Yet a recent American Cancer Society survey found that adults ages 48 and above are more likely to be able to name a judge from American Idol than to know they are at risk for colon cancer. The American Cancer Society, HHC and DOHMH are working to change that, and the awareness campaigns are paying off, but access to screenings for people without insurance is also critical to saving lives. As much as we raise awareness through programs like our Fabulous at 50 campaign, we cannot be successful without finding ways for uninsured men and women to get screened."
Free or low-cost colon cancer screenings are being provided at HHC facilities in the Bronx (Lincoln, Belvis, Morrisania, North Central Bronx and Jacobi) and at all other HHC hospitals, including Harlem Hospital, Renaissance, Metropolitan, Bellevue, Elmhurst Hospital, Queens, Woodhull, Cumberland, Kings County Hospital, East New York, Coney Island Hospital, and Gouverneur. New Yorkers can visit www.nyc.gov/html/hhc/html/home/coloncancer.shtml or call 311 for more information on these screenings or to make an appointment.
How Screenings Work – and Who Should Get Them
Colon cancer screenings can actually prevent cancer by finding pre-cancerous lesions that can be removed before the cancer develops. Yet only half of New Yorkers aged 50 and older have ever had a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, leaving nearly 1 million adult New Yorkers at greater risk of undetected colon cancer.
People in higher risk groups for colon cancer are less likely to get a colon cancer screening. These include: men, older New Yorkers, smokers and people who do not exercise regularly. African-American men have the highest overall death rate from colon cancer in the City. At 31 deaths per 100,000 persons, African-American men are 30% more likely than white men, 41% more likely than Hispanic men and nearly 50% more likely than Asian men to die from colon cancer. While women have a lower colon cancer death rate, African-American women similarly have the highest death rate (19 per 100,000) compared with white women (16/100,000), Hispanic women (13/100,000) and Asian women (10/100,000).
HHC’s and DOHMH’s Efforts to Increase Public Awareness of the Importance of Colonoscopies
- "Do Whatever It Takes" is a print, radio and television campaign developed by HHC that encourages regular colon cancer screenings for anyone over the age of 50, or younger than 50 for those who have a strong family or personal history of colon cancer or polyps. Flyers and advertisements announcing the campaign are being distributed in 11 languages (English, Spanish, Polish, Chinese, Korean, Albanian, French Creole, Hindi, Russian, Yiddish and Urdu).
- The Health Department has distributed prevention guidelines and education materials to medical providers in the three neighborhoods with high rates of colon cancer deaths (East and Central Harlem, the South Bronx, North & Central Brooklyn). DOHMH strongly recommends that doctors include routine colon cancer screenings, ideally by colonoscopy, for patients age 50 and older, or for those who are younger than 50 and have a family history of the disease. Increasing colon cancer screening and thereby reducing deaths from colon cancer is one of the 10 priorities of the Take Care New York health policy, which is online at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/tcny/index.html.
- The Citywide Colon Cancer Control Coalition, a partnership between the DOHMH, HHC, the Greater New York Hospital Association, and ACS, as well as local physicians, patients and community groups, meets regularly to increase awareness about colon cancer screening, to expand access to colonoscopies, and to encourage physicians to recommend colonoscopy for all appropriate patients to reduce colon cancer deaths in New York City.
March Is Colon Cancer Awareness Month
If you’re 50 or older and your doctor hasn’t recommended colonoscopy, ask why. Colonoscopy is covered by most insurance. For more information about colon cancer, colon cancer screenings, and colonoscopy, New Yorkers should speak to their medical provider. For more information about colon cancer and where to get screened, visit www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/hhc/html/home/coloncancer.shtml