Capital Region Turns Blue for Colon Cancer Awareness

Group at Albany Main Streets Go Blue

Photo: Jonathan Scherzer, Director of Marketing, Capital District Transportation Authority; Ashley Jeffrey, American Cancer Society Community Mission Manager; James Salengo, Executive Director, Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation; Anthony Capese Jr., Executive Director, Central Ave. Business Improvement District; and Sam Petrecky, Cancer Services Program client.

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Cancer Services Program, American Cancer Society and Community Partners Urge People 50 and Older to Get Screened for Colon Cancer

Loudonville, NY (March 9, 2011) – March is colon cancer awareness month and this year the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy are turning blue to help educate residents about how to prevent and detect colon cancer early.

According to the American Cancer Society, if all adults 50 and older were screened death rates for colon cancer would be cut in half, saving approximately 25,000 lives per year. In response, the Cancer Services Programs of Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer Counties are organizing “Main Streets Go Blue.” The program aims to raise awareness about colorectal cancer and provide free screening to area residents with little or no health insurance.

“This is an incredible opportunity to raise awareness,” said Diana Martin, regional vice president of the American Cancer Society. “Early detection is critical and some screening tools can actually prevent colon cancer, but not enough people are getting tested. That’s why an effort like this is so important.”

“Main Streets Go Blue” is a collaboration between many local health care providers, businesses and organizations. As part of the effort, the Business Improvement Districts of Albany, Schenectady and Troy have organized for parts of each city to be illuminated and decorated in blue during the month of March. Free take-home colon cancer screening kits will be offered at select Capital District Transportation Authority bus stops. In addition, the Cancer Services Program will be hosting a number of free colon cancer screening opportunities throughout the region.

“Clients age 50 and older who do not have health insurance are eligible for a free, easy take home screening kit for colorectal cancer. Breast and cervical cancer screenings are also available for women age 40 and older,” said Christie Ray-Marchetti Outreach manager for the Cancer Services Program.

Sam Petrecky discovered the cancer services program at a job fair about a year ago. After experiencing the death of his mother from cancer, Sam understood the importance of early detection. He completed the take home screening kit for colon cancer and the test came back positive. A free colonoscopy through the program followed and Sam was diagnosed with two pre-cancerous growths in his colon. The growths were removed during the colonoscopy and Sam is doing great now. Because of his experience Sam is volunteering with the program to get the word out the importance of early screenings, particularly for men.

“The life you save may be your own, it's a simple painless test,” said Sam Petrecky.

The effort is being praised by local business leaders.

“The Businesses of Central Avenue in Albany are proud to be working together with so many great partners to help spread the message of colorectal cancer awareness. The New York State Department of Health has created a very proactive life saving screening program and we are honored to offer our help to deliver the message to our community and the region. Many of our businesses are actively promoting this awareness effort and many are also hosting events. We encourage residents to find a Central Avenue business that is hosting an event and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity,” said Anthony J. Capece Jr., Executive Director of the Central Avenue Business Improvement District.

“The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation is very happy to support the Main Streets Go Blue campaign, especially during this busy month when The Lion King is at Proctors and many visitors will be able to see participating business windows,” said Executive Director Jim Salengo. “We truly hope to bring added awareness to Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and how important it is for men and women over 50 to get screened.”

“The Downtown Troy Business Improvement District is delighted to be able to partner with the American Cancer Society and the Cancer Services Program. When the business world and the non-profit world come together and work towards the common goal of better health for our citizens, much positive progress can be made. A healthy world is a prosperous one,” added Elizabeth Young of the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District and Troy Downtown Collaborative.

“CDTA is pleased to work with the American Cancer Society, our local business districts and the community to spread awareness of cancer prevention,” said CDTA Chairwoman Denise Figueroa. “If we can help save even one person through this bus stop outreach then our efforts will have been well worth it.”

The American Cancer Society and the Cancer Services Program urge everyone age 50 and older to get screened for colon cancer. The Cancer Services Program provides no-cost colon, breast and cervical cancer screening to the uninsured or underinsured.

Main Streets Go Blue Colon Cancer Awareness Events Include:
Albany - Everett road lights will be blue, large banners and decorations on city fences, Choppa and sons to feature powder blue tux, decorations at many Central Ave. businesses
Screening Events - Albany County Cancer Services Program Partnership - Call 454-4055 to sign-up
Monday, March 21st from 9:00 am - 2:00 p.m. breast, cervical, colorectal screenings - Westgate Plaza Price Chopper and Planned Parenthood
Wednesday, March 23rd from 2 - 5:30 p.m. Fit Kit Distribution (Screen for Colorectal CA.) - West Mall Busplus station
Friday, March 25th from 3 - 6 p.m. Fit Kit Distribution (Screen for Colorectal CA) - Bob and Ron's Fish Fry

Troy – Hedley Building 3/4 - 3/11 will be lit up and many downtown business windows are decorated
Screening Events - Rensselaer County Partnership - Call 454-4013 to sign-up
March 4th Kennedy Towers – Fit Kit Distribution Day 10am – 2pm
March 10th – Hoosick Falls FHC – Fit Kit Distribution Day 12pm – 2pm
March 17th Comprehensive Screening Event, Northeast Health Women’s Imaging – 8am – 2pm
March 24th Comprehensive Screening Event, Seton Women’s Imaging – 4pm – 7pm

Schenectady – Decorations at many downtown businesses
Screening Events - Schenectady County Partnership - Call - 347-5566 to sign-up
Tuesday, March 8th from 2:00 pm-6:00 pm-Prostate and Colorectal Screenings-Ellis Health Center
Saturday, March 12th from 8:30 am-2:30 pm-Breast, Cervical, and Colorectal Screenings-Ellis Health Center

American Cancer Society Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines:
Beginning at age 50, both men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests below:
Tests that find polyps and cancer
• Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years*
• Colonoscopy every 10 years
• Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years*
• CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*
Tests that mainly find cancer
• Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year*,**
• Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*,**
• Stool DNA test (sDNA), interval uncertain*
*Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.
**For FOBT or FIT used as a screening test, the take-home multiple sample method should be used. An FOBT or FIT done during a digital rectal exam in the doctor's office is not adequate for screening.

In addition to screening, there are healthy lifestyle behaviors individuals can adopt to reduce risk of colon cancer. Studies show that being overweight or obese increases risk of colon cancer, and people whose diets include a high amount of red and processed meats are at increased risk.

The American Cancer Society recommends that adults engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on five or more days of the week; and consume a healthy diet that includes five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day, whole grains (instead of processed grains and sugars), limited alcohol and processed and red meats, and controlled portion sizes. Smoking also increases risk of colon cancer.

For information about colon cancer, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or cancer.org. To see if you are eligible for no-cost cancer screenings, contact the NYS Cancer Services Program at 1-866-442-2262.

Additional Resources:
American Cancer Society Guide to Colon Cancer
Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2011 - 2013
New Fact Sheet on Colon Cancer in New York and New Jersey
Video: Get Tested for Colon Cancer - Here's How
Free Colon Cancer Screenings in New York and New Jersey

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About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.