Ogdensburg hospital urges cancer screenings
OGDENSBURG -- A recent announcement from the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA) calls on healthcare providers and institutions like Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center (CHMC) to curb the effects of COVID-19 on colorectal cancer screening rates, which have plummeted during the pandemic, CHMC said.
Screening is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer, the nation’s second-deadliest cancer, when men and women are combined. A recent analysis from the American Cancer Society (ACS) revealed an 86% drop in colorectal cancer screenings from pre-COVID-19 averages. Over the last two decades, colorectal cancer screening in the USA rates increased to 67% of eligible individuals. Current efforts are directed towards boosting screening rates to 80%.As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, primary care visits have decreased substantially, and elective medical procedures, like colorectal cancer screenings, ceased to help reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare facilities. This has attributed to the substantial decline in colorectal cancer screening, CHMC said.
As New York State re-opens businesses and ease COVID-19 restrictions, CHMC joins other healthcare facilities to provide colorectal cancer screenings and many other elective procedures. CHMC has made careful consideration of the risks and benefits of providing colorectal cancer screenings during COVID-19, along with ensuring safety for both patients and healthcare personnel. With proper precautions, and following COVID-19 guidelines issued by organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the ACS, allows for Claxton-Hepburn to provide life-saving screenings safely.
Claxton-Hepburn providers offer several options for colorectal cancer screening for people at average risk. For example, stool-based tests, such as fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) or a stool DNA test can be done in the privacy of your home. If you get a positive stool test result, you will need a colonoscopy. Other screening options include CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy), flexible sigmoidoscopy, and traditional colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is the best option and considered the gold standard in colorectal cancer screening. Your health care provider can help you determine what screening schedule and which screening tests are best for you at this time.
CHMC follows the ACS’s colorectal cancer screening guidelines, which recommend people at the average risk of colorectal cancer start screening at age 45. People who are in good health and with a life expectancy of more than ten years should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75. For people ages 76 through 85, the decision to be screened should be based on a person’s preferences, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history. People over 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening.
The ACS defines people at average risk for colorectal cancer if they do not have a personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps, a family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease), or a confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome.
The ACS recommends that people at increased or high risk of colorectal cancer might need to start colorectal cancer screening before age 45, be screened more often, or get specific tests. This includes people with a strong family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps, a personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, a known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome.
If you’re at increased or high risk of colorectal cancer, have a conversation with your health care provider to learn more. Your provider can discuss your screening options, as well as determine what type of screening schedule you should follow.
Most private insurance and Medicare and Medicaid cover the cost of the variety of colorectal cancer screenings available. In the instance, a patient needs a colorectal cancer screening and is uninsured or underinsured, through generous grants from the St. Lawrence Cancer Fund enables CHMC to provide these folks free colorectal cancer screenings.
For more information or to schedule a colorectal cancer screening at CHMC, people can call 315-713-5251.