Health & Wellness

Somerset County Urges Screening for Colorectal Cancer

"Screening for colon cancer has been proven to save lives, which is especially important since in its early stages there are no symptoms,” said Somerset County Freeholder Pat Walsh.

SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County Board of Freeholders and the Morris-Somerset Regional Chronic Disease Coalition are encouraging residents to get screened for colorectal cancer and to make good food and lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. 

A proclamation declaring March Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month was presented at the Feb. 28 freeholders’ meeting. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer affects both men and women, is the second leading cancer-related killer in the United States and is the third most common cancer in men and women. 

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“Please help us spread the word that colorectal cancer is preventable and outcomes are better when cancer is found at an early stage,” said Freeholder Patricia L. Walsh, public health and safety liaison. “As a nurse, I have cared for many cancer patients and urge you to be proactive about your health.”

Information and literature about colon cancer will be available at a display in the lobby of the county administration building, 20 Grove St. through March 30.   An online version of a helpful calendar with interactive links can be found at http://bit.ly/ColonCan17

‘”Screening for colon cancer has been proven to save lives, which is especially important since in its early stages there are no symptoms,” said Freeholder Walsh. “Yet many people don’t get tested because they don’t believe they are at risk, are not aware of available testing options or they believe they can’t afford the cost of being tested.

“Starting in March, we hope to enlist all RCDC members and community members at large to join us in this prevention effort,” she said.  “We encourage residents age 50 and above or those people who are younger who have risk factors and a family history of colon cancer to learn about the importance of screenings and lifestyle choices.”



Several screening methods are available, including take-home options. Many public and private insurance plans cover colorectal cancer screening and local resources are available to help people who are uninsured.  

The RCDC is encouraging residents to add fiber-rich foods to their diet through its “Fiber Matters: Fiber Fridays” initiative by designating Fridays during March as a jumping-off point to a more healthful lifestyle.

In addition, the RCDC and its partners have taken the pledge to help increase colorectal cancer screening rates by supporting the “80% by 2018” initiative, led by the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (an organization co-founded by the ACS and CDC). 

The pledge is a shared goal to have 80% of adults age 50 and above regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. Over 500 organizations already have signed the pledge to make this goal a priority.  Achieving this goal would prevent 277,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 203,000 deaths by 2030. Pledge information is available online at http://bit.ly/PledgeColonC

The RCDC, through its multi-year educational campaign and working with health care providers, has promoted projects to increase the number of people going for early-detection cancer screenings in Morris and Somerset counties for close to a decade.

For additional information on free educational programs offered in both counties during the month of March, contact RCDC Coordinator Lucille Talbot at (908) 203-6077 or ytalbot@co.somerset.nj.us.  

Somerset County residents can learn if they are eligible for low-cost or reduced-cost medical care, including exams and screenings, by calling Zufall Health Center in Somerville (hablamos espanol) at (908) 526-2335.

The Morris-Somerset Regional Chronic Disease Coalition is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Office of Cancer Control and Prevention, and is administered by the Somerset County Department of Health. 

For more information, to become a member or to learn more about available cancer resources, screening locations, dates, times and eligibility, contact RCDC Public Health Consultant Lucille Y-Talbot at (908) 203-6077 orYTalbot@co.somerset.nj.us .

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