SOMERVILLE - The Somerset County Board of Freeholders and the Morris-Somerset Regional Chronic Disease Coalition (RCDC), along with its partners, are encouraging residents to get screened for colon cancer and incorporate a healthy diet, including fiber and whole grains, to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.

“The goal of the March Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month campaign is to increase awareness about colorectal cancer.  More than 140,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year” said Freeholder Deputy Director Peter S. Palmer, public health and safety department liaison. 

 “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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A proclamation declaring March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month was presented at the March 8 freeholders’ meeting.

“Treatment works best and outcomes are better when cancer is found at an early stage,” he said.  “So spread the word that colorectal cancer is preventable and treatable if detected at an early stage.”

For close to a decade, 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 both counties.

“Starting in March, we hope to enlist all RCDC members and community members at large to join us in this prevention effort,” said Freeholder Palmer.  “We encourage residents age 50 and older 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 to encourage others to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.”

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.

An information table with literature about colon cancer will be in the lobby of the county administration building, located at 20 Grove St. in Somerville, through March 30. Be sure to pick up a Fiber-Fridays calendar.  The calendar shares delicious ways to add more fiber to your diet and provides resources to help you take charge of your health.

Several RCDC partners will be sending messages to employees on Fridays on how to incorporate fiber and whole grains in their diets.  Some organizations with on-site cafeterias are offering those foods for lunch on Fridays. The public is encouraged to share this idea at their workplace, school and at home.

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 or .