Rod Harwood, an older adult specialist with Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc. (GOBHI), recently had lunch at the Lake County Senior Center. Harwood travels all over eastern Oregon for his job, and he enjoys meeting people in the communities he serves. He sat down at a table with a couple of gentlemen and somehow, the talk turned to colorectal cancer.
Gross, you might be thinking. That definitely is not appropriate lunchtime conversation.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that we don’t have the same reaction to discussing other tough subjects, or even other health topics. Other types of cancer are talked about openly. Think of breast cancer: That was once considered taboo, too, but now, thanks to a national campaign to bring that disease into the open, people are comfortable discussing it — or as comfortable as one can be when talking about a topic as serious and scary as cancer.
Thanks to that openness, more people are aware of facts about and treatment for breast cancer. Facts about colorectal cancer, on the other hand, are less well known.
- Colorectal cancer typically begins in the colon or rectum as a polyp. Some, but not all, polyps may turn into cancer over time (American Cancer Society).
- Your healthcare provider can detect those polyps through several means of testing, not just a colonoscopy. Learn about different types of testing through this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services resource.
- Testing is extremely important, especially for those with risk factors for colorectal cancer and/or are between the ages of 50 and 75, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Why is screening so important? Colorectal cancer is common. About 1 in 22 men and about 1 in 24 women will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetimes (American Cancer Society). Only prostate, lung, and breast cancer were more frequently diagnosed in the U.S. in 2018. Overall, it’s the third most common cancer in both men and women.
- It might have been fourth on the list of diagnosed cancers last year, but colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer. About 50,630 people died of colorectal cancer in 2018 (Cancer Statistics Center).
- Screening makes colorectal cancer is highly preventable. Screening can detect most polyps before they have a chance to turn into cancer. It can also catch colorectal cancer at an early stage, when it is more easily treated (American Cancer Society).
You can learn more about colorectal cancer and screening options by talking with your healthcare provider. The Lake County Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP), with Lake Health and Warner Mountain Medical clinics, is committed to improving awareness about colorectal cancer and screening options in 2018. You can learn more about the program here.
To learn more about colorectal cancer and screening options, contact one of Lake County’s three clinics:
- Lake Health Clinic, 700 South J St., Lakeview, (541) 947-3366
- Warner Mountain Medical Clinic, 620 South J St., Lakeview, (541) 947-2331
- La Pine Community Health Center-Christmas Valley, 87520 Bay Road, Christmas Valley, (541) 576-2343