by DIANA DELGADILLO/South Kern Sol
ARVIN–Everyone hears about breast and prostate cancer, but little do they know of colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society in Kern Country is intending to change this by raising awareness to Latinos and outreaching on colorectal cancer prevention.
Recently, in Arvin a presentation about the importance of colorectal cancer screening was given to a group of women after their daily exercise routine. During the presentation the women seemed interested and surprised about some of the facts that were mentioned.
“The information about colorectal cancer was good,” said Eustolia Gonzalez, coordinator of the dance therapy group for Arvin. “They will be more aware about what polyps are and if they are cancerous or non cancerous.”
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer for both men and women in the U.S. In 2011, approximately 270 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and around 90 will die from it. The cancer affects colon and rectum, which are the last part of the digestive system. They make up most of the large intestine.
However, many South Kern County residents are unaware of what is colorectal cancer.
Socorro Carrillo, the Community Health Initiatives Director of the American Cancer Society gave an informative speech about the importance of colorectal cancer screening. She mentioned how the organization has campaigned throughout South Kern.
“Through the promotoras, we had a forum and we invited an internal medicine doctor,” she said. “She actually taught about screening of colorectal cancer.”
Other obstacle in prevention and screening of colorectal cancer is the lack of access to healthcare, according to Carrillo. Many Kern County residents do not obtain healthcare due to reasons such as being low income, lack of health insurance and immigration status. Therefore, they avoid attending medical visits and important checkups or exams. This then causes many people to get diagnosed to health illnesses at a more advanced stage.
“What I could say is that there is a huge need for cancer prevention screenings but due to the lack of insurance coverage, a lot of people are not able to afford the screenings for colorectal cancer and the state does not have anything that could help us cover,” said Carrillo.
Unfortunately, some people, usually over the age of 50, get polyps that can eventually become harmful and can turn into colorectal cancer. Polyps are abnormal tissues that invade the colon and/or the rectum. They look like small mushrooms that attach to the inner lining of the organ. At first, polyps are harmless, but with time, they tend to become cancerous.
The American Cancer Society emphasizes the significance of colorectal cancer screenings when they reach 50 and followed up every 5 to 10 years. It’s a painless procedure that can save one’s life.
“We don’t know. Really, there is no information letting us know why we develop polyps,” said Carrillo, when asked what causes the polyps. “The only thing we know is that most polyps can become cancerous if they are not removed.”
Colorectal cancer is unlike other forms of cancer, it’s harder to detain once it’s in the body. That’s why it’s essential to have medical exams conducted at the recommended age.
“Ways to prevent colorectal cancer,” said Carrillo, “Are a healthy nutrition, physical activity and I would say the first one (is) screening (for) early detection.”