According to the American Cancer Society, about 51,020 people in the United States will die from colorectal cancer this year. “Fifty-one thousand people is too many – so we’ve made it our passion to spread encouragement and knowledge to patients who are putting off their screening,” says Dr. David Barry of Gastroenterology Associates of the Piedmont, P.A. (GAP).
March is recognized as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which brings national attention to the importance of screening for prevention or early cancer detection. For those of us in the Triad, it’s an opportunity to encourage our family, friends, and neighbors to get screened! Putting off a screening appointment is easy to do, as work and family commitments seem to fill our days. However, it’s important to remember that reaching even oneperson who needs a screening could potentially save his or her life, impacting their family for generations.
GAP spreads awareness throughout the entire year with an outreach program dedicated to visiting doctors’ offices, health fairs, and a variety of community events to provide educational materials, discuss the importance of screening, and answer questions. As part of this mission to educate, they regularly sponsor and participate in the Get Your Rear in Gear 5k Run/Walk & Kid’s Fun Run – the largest colorectal cancer-focused event series in the United States. Funds raised during this popular event are put towards efforts to increase screening rates and overall awareness of colorectal diseases.
This year’s Get Your Rear in Gear event will take place Saturday, March 9, at Quarry Park in Winston-Salem. For more information, visit donate.coloncancercoalition.org/winston-salem.
Did you know that colorectal cancer in those younger than 50 is on the rise?
“We’re trying to get away from the impression that screening is only for the older generation,” says Dr. Blake Scott. “Understanding symptoms and learning your family history may help determine whether you would benefit from earlier testing that could potentially save your life.”
The GAP team urges patients to:
- Take ANY symptoms seriously. There is no such thing as “normal” rectal bleeding.
- Learn your family history – but not only those cases that involve cancer. It’s just as important to know if a family member has a history of polyps (growths on the colon lining that may or may not be cancerous) or Lynch syndrome (an inherited condition that can pose a higher risk of developing certain cancers later in life).
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight!
- Establish yourself with a primary care provider, and schedule annual wellness appointments – an important factor in maintaining better overall health.
- Get screened! Colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that can actually be preventable with proper screening. The physicians at GAP can (literally!) nip those polyps before they turn into cancer.
To discuss which screening option is best for you, contact any of GAP’s locations at 336-448-2427 – that includes offices in Winston-Salem, Clemmons, and NOW IN KERNERSVILLE! You can also learn more about their services at gapgi.com, or by following them on Facebook.