Demystify Lifesaving Colorectal Cancer Screening T...
Demystify Lifesaving Colorectal Cancer Screening Through Community Events in the Bronx
May 10, 2023
When detected early, colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable, and even preventable, cancers. To help dispel myths, encourage early detection and save lives, Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Program partnered with New York GI Center (NYGI), the Westchester Bronx Society of Black Physicians and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East on a series of events in March (Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month). The overarching goal to reach as many people as possible is aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of screening for colorectal cancer.
“This was the most successful Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month yet,” said Chinyere N. Mba-Jonas, Director of Operations for Surgical Services, Montefiore Einstein. “Thanks to all our collaborators, we were able to serve more people than ever.”
Colorectal cancer disproportionately affects people of African American descent, and in the Bronx, there can be confusion and fear around the most common test for colorectal cancer, colonoscopies. The month’s events were about demystifying preparation and testing for colorectal cancer and improving the community’s understanding of how easy, safe and important testing can be.
“In-person events are very effective in that they provide an opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns in real-time with the "community,” said Denise Galeano," Program Manager.
The events kicked off on March 18 at Montefiore Wakefield, where patients underwent screenings and everyone who came by was offered educational information. On March 22, patients and visitors at Montefiore Einstein Advanced Care–Westchester were offered information about colorectal cancer prevention as well as the importance of screening and how to register to be screened.
NYGI set a location record, dedicating all six procedure rooms to colonoscopies for the day. While about half of people scheduled for colonoscopies usually show up, a whopping 80% showed up for their tests on Community Screening Day.
On March 29, at an event promoted by the Westchester Bronx Society of Black Physicians (whose board comprises mostly Montefiore Einstein physicians) and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, patient navigators manned tables at Montefiore Wakefield to answer questions about colorectal cancer screenings and assess attendees to see if they were eligible for colorectal cancer screening. The American Cancer Society recommends people at average risk should start screening at age 45. Anyone with a personal or family history of polyps or colorectal cancer, a history of inflammatory bowel disease, a confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome or a personal history of radiation in the abdomen or pelvic area should start screening sooner.
“When someone is in front of you, you can walk them through the prep for colonoscopies and show that it isn’t as hard as they think and doesn’t need to be a deal breaker,” said Mba-Jonas. For those who were eligible, navigators also handed out fecal immunochemical tests (FITs), which are highly sensitive stool-based tests that people can take at home.
The month capped off with the annual Rollin’ Colon event on March 31 at the East Garden of the Moses Campus. The event’s namesake attraction was a larger-than-life inflatable human colon. Guests could walk through it and see structural replicas of both healthy tissue and potentially problematic findings, including polyps and other abnormalities that can lead to cancer.
“It’s a great educational tool,” said Mba-Jonas. “While it definitely attracts children, they have their grandparents and parents with them who might be of age to get screened.”
Attendees exiting the tunnel were greeted with information tables and additional resources, including the opportunity to schedule a screening.