Beachwood, Ohio – March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. For the second consecutive year, University Hospitals (UH) Digestive Health Institute at UH Ahuja Medical Center will offer a program of free colonoscopies to qualifying patients throughout March.
“Colon cancer is the most common gastrointestinal cancer by far, and one of the most common causes of cancer deaths,” said John A. Dumot, DO, Medical Director, UH Digestive Health Institute, UH Ahuja Medical Center. “People need to take it seriously, and our message with this colonoscopy initiative is, ‘get screened.’”
After the success of last year’s program, UH Ahuja Medical Center is expanding it by providing 20 free colonoscopies to patients meeting these criteria. You must:
• Be an Ohio resident
• Currently have no health insurance with income below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
• Be 50 – 65 years old with no serious pre-existing conditions.
• Have no symptoms of colorectal cancer including rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, temporary change in or discomfort with bowel movements, cramping pain in lower abdomen, frequent gas pains, weight loss without dieting, constant fatigue.
• Not be taking blood thinners.
• Not have an artificial heart valve, defibrillator, pacemaker, bleeding disorder or obstructive sleep apnea.
• Be able to provide consent to have the colonoscopy performed.
• Have a companion who provides transportation for you to and from UH Ahuja Medical Center and is able to remain on-site during the procedure.
“For those who qualify and complete the screening, University Hospitals will provide financial counseling and support to pay for follow-up care as needed,” said Theresa Kearns-Fischer, RN, BSN, MBA, Director of Operations, UH Digestive Health Institute.
Colonoscopy not only screens for colon cancer, it can actually prevent it with the removal of polyps. “The majority of men and women should have their first colonoscopy at age 50; African-Americas should start at age 45,” says Dr. Dumot. “If there is a strong family history of colon cancer – an immediate family member who developed the disease before age 60 – screenings should begin at age 40.” Dr. Dumot stresses that while obesity is the strongest predictor of colon cancer, it is a disease than can strike anyone.
“Between 30 and 40 percent of adult candidates have never been screened for colon cancer,” says Susan Juris, President, UH Ahuja Medical Center. “With this March program, we are committed to getting people in our area thinking and motivated to schedule a colonoscopy.”
Screening colonoscopies are also being offered in March at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland. To learn if you qualify for a free colonoscopy at UH Ahuja Medical Center, 3999 Richmond Road in Beachwood, call 216-844-2336 by Friday, March 14. For more information about the services offered at the hospital’s UH Digestive Health Institute, visit www.ahuja.org. For details about National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, visit the Colon Cancer Alliance at www.ccalliance.org/awareness_month.