March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Paramus Health Officer, John Hopper, urges you to schedule an annual visit with your doctor. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in our country and responsible for more than 50,000 deaths each year, yet it is also one of the most curable forms of the disease. Caught early and with proper treatment, most patients return to normal lives.
People at high risk for the disease are those with a family history of colorectal cancer, those with a family history of colorectal cancer, or those who have had polyps of the colon or ulcerative colitis. People eating a diet high in fat and those who use alcohol and cigarettes are also at higher risk.
Colonoscopy, digital rectal exams and hemoccult kits are used for early detection of the disease. The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at average risk for the disease should begin screening at age 50, and test for blood in their stool each year. A sigmoidoscopy should be scheduled every 5 years and without additional risk factors, a colonoscopy every 10 years.
Paramus residents may receive a free home-test kit by calling the Board of Health at 201-265-2100, Extension 615 or 618. The hemoccult kit, a simple at-home procedure, checks for blood hidden in the stool which may be a sign of cancer or other internal disorders. After following instructions, the kit is returned to the Board of Health office and the results are mailed to your home.
Board of Health member John Brunner urges all Paramus residents over the age of 50 to take advantage of the free test kits.