Brewster, NY – Colorectal cancer – cancer that begins in the colon or rectum – is one of the most common cancers
among New Yorkers. Each year more than 10,000 people develop colorectal cancer, and nearly 3,500 die in New
York State alone. Early detection is key and March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, is a good time to
schedule a screening and make some lifestyle changes for further protection.
“Screenings for colorectal cancer can detect polyps before cancer even begins,” says Allen Beals, M.D.,
Putnam County Commissioner of Health. “If polyps are found early, they can be removed easily.”
“It is always smart to take the initiative when it concerns matters of health,” said County Executive
MaryEllen Odell. “I am so pleased to see that our Health Department is proactive in seeing to it that information on a
variety of health matters is brought to the attention of the public.”
Colorectal cancer can strike younger adults, but most cases are in people aged 50 or older. According to the
Centers for Disease Control, if everyone 50 years and older were screened regularly, nearly 60% of deaths from this
cancer could be avoided. Certain individuals should begin testing earlier, such as those with a personal or family
history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or colorectal polyps. These conditions may put them at
greater risk. Recommended screening tests include: stool tests, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or a barium enema.
Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer do not always cause symptoms, especially in the early stages.
Symptoms for colorectal cancer typically do not surface until it has spread and become life threatening. Symptoms
may include bleeding from the rectum, blood in the stool, change in bowel habits, decreased appetite or unexplained
weight loss, weakness and fatigue, or stomach pain that does not go away, and should prompt a call to your health
Lifestyle choices can help protect against developing colorectal cancer and other cancers. The American
Cancer Society recommends the following to reduce a person’s risk:
-Do not smoke
-Maintain a healthy weight
-Be physically active on a regular basis
-Make healthy food choices
-Limit alcohol consumption
No single food or nutrient protects against colorectal cancer by itself; a variety of factors in foods work together to
provide anti-cancer effects. There is convincing evidence that a high-fiber, plant-based style of eating, incorporating a
variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, helps lower the risk for several cancers, including colorectal
cancer. For more information about healthy eating to reduce your cancer risk, visit www.AICR.org.
The New York State Cancer Services Program (CSP) provides breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings
at NO COST to women and men who:
-Do not have health insurance OR have health insurance that does not cover the cost of these screenings
-Cannot pay for these screenings
-Meet income eligibility requirements
-Meet age requirements
-Live in New York State
Additional services include diagnostic testing if results are abnormal and referrals for treatment. For more
information or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Cancer Services Program at 1-866-442-2262 or visit
http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/services/community_resources and click on your county.
The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community,
composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance
and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion, emergency preparedness and health
education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our social
media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.