Michelle Rupp: Joining me now is Stacy George. She is an APRN and works with us here at AFMC. Stacy, thank you for joining us this morning.
Stacey George, APRN: Thanks for having me, Michelle.
MR: So, we want to talk about colorectal cancer. This was new to me in terms of March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. So, let’s first start at the beginning. Why do you think people are reluctant to get this type of screening? We hear about cancer screenings all the time, but we don’t hear as much about this cancer screening.
SG: Absolutely Michelle and colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. So, we want to definitely bring awareness to that and that’s why we’re focusing on it again in March. Patients are reluctant for many reasons. We hear because the stool-based tests or those at home tests that you do, they’re messy or they’re worried they’re going to do it incorrectly and not submit a good test and get a false reading or maybe even a false positive. Other reasons are the most common type of screening is a colonoscopy and they have to take off work for that. Sometimes they have to take off for a prep visit or the dreaded prep of just getting your body ready for a colonoscopy is reason enough for some people just to completely decline the screening.
MR: What have we seen in terms of, or have we seen a rise in this particular form of cancer?
SG: Absolutely. Colorectal cancer is actually nationwide the third most common type of cancer. It is also similar to that here in Arkansas. And Arkansas for men, it’s the second common type of death from cancer. Second highest cancer death. And for women, it’s the third highest cancer death in Arkansas. And that’s why we’re focusing on it with this work with UAMS.
MR: You mentioned about a partnership with UAMS. Go ahead and tell us about that.
SG: Sure. AFMC is partnered with UAMS on something called Partnerships and Colorectal Cancer in Arkansas. And it is to bring awareness to colorectal cancer screening. It’s from a CDC grant that UAMS was awarded. It’s a five-year program and we have partnered with a health care system in Northeast Arkansas that has six clinics that takes care of some of the rural underserved communities in our state and that have higher rates of colorectal cancer and lower rates of screening. So that is where we are focused on our work.
MR: So, let’s talk about symptoms. How would someone even know that they might even want to get screened? Because even as you said, the screenings don’t sound very pleasant. And so that might not, you know, be something that you would want to do unless you were exhibiting some symptoms. What are some of the symptoms?
SG: Absolutely. So, rectal bleeding is one of the most common symptoms or blood in their stool. Changing bathroom habits. So, changing from diarrhea to constipation. Sometimes patients have cramping or pain in their lower abdomen. Also, anemia, unexplained anemia or low blood count can also be attributed to colorectal cancer.
MR: Is there a specific age group that we’re talking about here arrange?
SG: Yes, actually the range just got lowered and last year the age 45 is when we when we talk about screening our patients and that are of average risk. And so that brings me to something else. I wanted to talk about the difference of average risk versus high risk. So, an average risk person is someone who has no family history of colorectal cancer or no concerning polyps on a previous exam. Where a person with high risk is someone with a first degree relative. So, a parent, a sibling, a child with colorectal cancer or the concerning polyps.
MR: Okay. And that age of 45. Is that both in men and women?
SG: It is. It’s for both men and women of average risk. Now patients that are high risk, we recommend them be screened beginning at age 40 or if they had a family member who had colorectal cancer 10 years earlier than the age that family member was diagnosed. So, if their family member was diagnosed at 45 they need to be screened at 35.
MR: Any other risk factors that might play into this.
SG: Sure, there are different rates like ethnicity, and we do see a higher rate in African American population. So that is something that we see. Of course, we see it more commonly in men than women.
MR: Okay. And that family history, I mean we hear it time after time, how it’s so important to know your family history. And this is another example.
SG: Absolutely. Absolutely.
MR: Well, if people have questions or they want to learn more, where can they get more information?
SG: Sure, they can reach out to UAMS. We will have information that we can share with you on the contact and for that. Or they can reach out to me here at AFMC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MR: Fantastic. Alright, Stacy. Thank you so much for joining us today.
SG: Alright. Thanks Michelle. Have a great day.
MR: Thank you. And thank you for joining us. We’ll see you back here next week for more AFMC TV.