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    Use Your Voice – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | March 18th, 2018

    Use Your Voice – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

    This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak at the Church of St. Mark in Brooklyn, New York where I was raised for their Women’s  Day program. The theme of the day was “Are Women’s Voices Being Heard in Society?”  Since I had a captive audience, I used that opportunity to encourage each person who was over 45 years old or older to get their colorectal cancer screening test and those who were younger to encourage those older to get their screening.

    March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Although colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups, black women and men have the highest rate of getting the cancer and when they are diagnosed, they are usually diagnosed earlier than 50 years old and that is why the recommendation for black people is earlier than the rest of the population. Screening should start at age 45 years old instead of the recommended 50 years old. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, your screening should start 10 years earlier than when that person was diagnosed if it earlier than the recommended screening age.

    According to the CDC, if everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Having your health care provider stick their finger into your anus and check for blood in the stool in the office is not an adequate test to screen for colorectal cancer. To find the best screening test for you, please click here.

    Please note you do not have to wait until you are 45 or 50 years old to be screened. If you have the following,  regardless of your age, talk with your healthcare provider:

    • Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)
    • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away
    • Losing weight and you do not know why

     

    The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends six ways to lower your risk for colorectal cancer:

      1. Get screened for colorectal cancer – screening tests are tests that look for cancer before the signs and symptoms of cancer develop.
      2. Eat lots of vegetables, fruits and grainseat less red and processed meats.
      3. Get regular exerciseanother good reason to exercise.
      4. Watch your weight – Being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting and dying from colorectal cancer.
      5. Do not smoke.
      6. Limit alcohol – ACS recommends no more than 2 drinks a day for med and 1 drink a day for women.

     

    At the end of the speech, I encouraged all women to never stop using their voices, because when you stop that is when you allow your voice never to be heard. Please share the information with those you believe will benefit.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.




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