The campaign in the African American community
African Americans have a higher rate* of colorectal cancer diagnoses (57) than the average of all races in the state (49). There are also higher rates of death (20) compared to the average of all races in the state (18).
Colorectal cancer can also be found at younger ages among the African American community. That’s why screening is recommended at age 45, compared to 50, and potentially earlier depending on a person’s family history.
There are three recommended screening options from the U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce: a stool test (FOBT or FIT), flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. A sigmoidoscopy allows doctors to check for polyps inside the rectum or lower third of the colon. It is, therefore, not a recommended screening for African Americans who often have polyps in the upper thirds of the colon.
To help increase screening rates among African Americans, OHA is partnering with the The Steve Baker Colorectal Cancer Alliance (SBCCA) and Men’s Health Project – Community Messengers, two community partners in the Portland metro area that already work closely with African Americans on this issue.
As the campaign evolves we will engage the African American faith community in the conversation and share information about the importance of screening.
*Rates are per 100,000, Oregon State Cancer Registry, 2006.
I was screened for colorectal cancer and was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in February 2010. My surgeon estimated the cancer had probably been growing in my colon for about 10 years! If I had been screened earlier, there would have been advantages to diagnosing and treating the cancer earlier.
I talk about colon screening because I want my friends and family members to understand it isn’t a terrible process, like they might think. It’s easy to do, and when it comes to colon cancer, early diagnosis and prevention really make a difference. I’m an example of how it saves lives.
I have had regular checkups since then and have no evidence of colon cancer. I will continue to have colon screenings and I encourage others to do the same.
Joy Maxwell – Roseburg