Arizona Cancer Summit 2014: Spotlight on Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

By Emily Wozniak

The 2014 Second Annual Arizona Cancer Summit was held on October 28, 2014. The Cancer Summit provides a unique opportunity for leaders and advocates from across the state come together for a common cause: to defeat cancer.

This year, the Cancer Summit focused on colorectal cancer and the devastating facts surrounding this cancer type in Arizona. The support of national groups including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, who seek to get 80% of Americans screened for colorectal cancer by the year 2018, furthered this year’s dialogue.

With this year’s attention on colorectal cancer, ADHS produced a report surrounding the state of colorectal cancer in Arizona. This report is the result of a coordinated effort by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Cancer Prevention and Control Programs (Arizona Cancer Registry, HealthCheck Programs, and Arizona Cancer Control Program).

The Colorectal Cancer in Arizona document is the third in a series of data reports, following the Breast Cancer in Arizona 2000-2009 document and Cervical Cancer in Arizona 2000-2010 report that was recently published. The report finds that in Arizona, the number of persons over age 50 years that have had a colonoscopy was estimated at 63 percent in 2012. Individuals under 50 years old continued to have the highest percentage of cases with a late stage diagnosis in 2011 (61% and 60%).

To learn more about colorectal cancer in Arizona, view the published report online.

Emily Wozniak, MPH is the HealthCheck Programs Operations Manager for the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Have you heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project?

PumpkinThe Teal Pumpkin Project, started two years ago with the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET), raises awareness of the severity of food allergies and is a way to show support to families of children with food allergies by painting a pumpkin teal. This is a great opportunity to educate the public about this important cause.

It encourages inclusion of children with food allergies and other dietary restrictions during an activity that is primarily food-focused.  The Food Allergy Research and Education’s (FARE) free downloadable poster is a great way to show that you have non-food treats available. The goal is not to exclude candy from the Halloween tradition but to encourage others to add a new tradition of also providing non-food items as a safe alternative. This will allow many children the opportunity to participate in traditional trick-or-treating on Halloween night, regardless of food-related limitations.

Video Blog: Title V Block Grant Needs Assessment Survey

In this Video Blog, Mary Ellen Cunningham, Chief of the Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health for the Arizona Department of Health Services, talks about the 2015 Needs Assessment Survey for the Title V Block Grant. The survey gives the people of Arizona help the Department of Health Services prioritize needs for women’s and children’s health services and programs.

Call To Action: The Increasing Incidence of Young Onset Colorectal Cancer

By Emily Wozniak

For most individuals, the recommended age to get screened for colorectal cancer is 50 years old, and for patients with a family history of the disease, screening may be even earlier.

However, in Arizona, we know that over half of colorectal cancers in patients under 50 years old are being diagnosed at late stages, making their cancer more difficult to treat.

Why do we see colorectal cancer in such young patients? The possible reasons are complex. We do understand, however, that if anyone is experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer at any age, they should be communicating these changes in bowel habits to their doctor right away.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Feeling that your bowel does not completely empty
  • Finding blood in your stools
  • Finding your stools are narrower than usual
  • Gas pains or cramps, or feeling bloated
  • Losing weight with no known reason
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Nausea and vomiting

Check out this video from the Colon Cancer Alliance about young colorectal patients:

For more information, contact Emily Wozniak, HealthCheck Programs Operations Manager, or Virginia Warren, Cancer Control Office Chief, within the Bureau of Health Systems Development at ADHS.

Fit at Fifty HealthCheck Program Encourages Everyone to Get Screened

By Emily Wozniak

According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20.

Not enough Arizonans are getting screened for colorectal cancer at the recommended age or if they are experiencing symptoms. It is important to talk to your doctor about your colon health and to discuss your options for getting screened.

Being uninsured is not an excuse: the Fit at Fifty HealthCheck Program is here to help if you or someone you know does not have health insurance. The program at ADHS screens about 1,500 Arizonans per year by providing Fecal Immunochemical Tests (FITs) and colonoscopies for individuals who qualify.

Learn more about the work being done here at ADHS to get people screened for colorectal cancer and check out the video below: