Colorectal cancer is the second cause of cancer related death in the country. And while it may be an uncomfortable topic to talk about it is also an important one. March has been declared as colorectal cancer awareness month and free screenings are being offered this week.
“We know how colorectal cancer develops, we know how it progresses, however we cannot get enough people to get screened for it,” said Dr. Lorenc Malellari, a colorectal surgeon. According to the Center for Disease Control only about 65 percent of people got screened in 2014.
Dr. Malellari says the reason behind that statistic is due to the fear of talking about it. “It has to do with the fact that it is a colon rectal cancer and no one wants to talk about it, if someone in the family has it that’s not a Thanksgiving dinner conversation.” Which he says is a stigma that needs to change in order to catch it early and get it treated,” said Dr. Malellari. “Unlike other cancers like breast cancer for example where you can feel a lump or a mass, colon and rectal cancers are very silent,” said Dr. Malellari.
There are signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for such as changes in bowel function, chronic diarrhea or constipation, unexpected weight loss and fatigue. Dr. Malellari says that colorectal cancer is something that any race or gender can get. Both women and men have a five percent chance of getting colorectal cancer during their lifetime. And doctors are more likely to catch it in the later stages in African Americans than any other race. “Current guidelines recommend screening at 50 years old for average risk patients, but we’ve seen quite a number of patients are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their 30s and 40s.” He says the only way to find out your status for sure is to get screened.
Tomorrow night there is a free colorectal screening kit distribution and instruction event at the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center on Truxtun Avenue. There are English and Spanish versions. The English version starts at 5:30 p.m. and the Spanish version starts at 6:30 p.m.
On Saturday there is a free presentation at the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center at 10 a.m. given by Dr. Lorenc Malellari. This presentation is followed by the English kit distribution and instruction event a 10:45 a.m. and the Spanish one at 11:15 a.m. The last free presentation will be Wednesday, March 21st at the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center at 5:30 p.m. given by Dr. Lorenc Malellari.