‘These numbers are alarming:’ Doctors express concern about Colorectal Cancer deaths in La., urge early detection
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Cancer certainly does not discriminate or care what your political beliefs are.
Doctors and advocates stood on the steps of the State Capitol on Wednesday, March 29, to get attention to the alarming stats when it comes to Colorectal Cancer here in Louisiana.
870 flags were placed on the front lawn of the State Capitol, to represent the number of people who are projected to lose their life this year across Louisiana from the disease.
“The lighter shade blue flags represent the number of additional projected deaths that Louisiana will experience over the national average. These numbers are alarming. 870 is almost 3 a day,” said Dr. John Lyons, a surgical oncologist at FMOLHS.
The numbers can be scary, but doctors tried to spread a message of hope for the disease, with new developments and guidance now in place.
“But my number 1 message will always be early detection,” said Dr. Donna Williams, with the Taking Aim at Cancer in Louisiana organization.
Many folks like Michael Herpin shared their stories of survival.
He was just 24 when he was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer.
“Went through chemo, radiation and a couple surgeries, and now I’m in remission,” said Michael Herpin, a cancer survivor.
No matter your age, Herpin doesn’t want you to ignore the symptoms or screenings before it’s too late.
“Advocate for yourself, watch out for yourself, and know your own body and what normal feels like,” said Herpin.
Louisiana ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to colorectal cancer deaths, and that’s why people are urging people of all races and backgrounds to get detected early.
The American Cancer Society guidelines have changed, because people are getting colorectal cancer at an earlier age.
So, Louisiana health officials changed their guidelines as well, lowering the screening age to 45, and now more at-home screening options are covered by Medicaid and most private insurance companies.
“Whether it’s colorectal screening through colonoscopy, or one of our stool-based tests, there’s a mechanism for them to get access, and we want them to take that,” said Dr. Shantel Hebert-Magee, Chief Medical Officer for Medicaid with LDH.
These doctors want people to get screened, and not just when their symptoms arise.
“The same way you buy those season tickets to the (New Orleans) Saints game, you should also ensure that you go and see your doctor. And also make sure that you’re taking advantage of preventative measures such as screening for colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Hebert-Magee.
Colorectal is actually the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
One doctor at the event said risk factors include overweight, older age, physical inactivity, diet high in red meat and processed foods, smoking, alcohol use, African American race, family hisotry of Colon Cancer or inherited generic syndromes.
According to the CDC , some symptoms may include:
- A change in bowel habits.
- Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement).
- Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way.
- Abdominal pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away.
- Weight loss and you don’t know why.
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