Being Blue in March

The Fight Against Colorectal Cancer

EASTPORT _ “Turning Washington County Blue,” is the focus of an Eastport Health Care campaign this month to draw attention to the importance of colorectal cancer prevention & screening.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and on Friday, March 15, EHC staff will be wearing blue to draw attention to this terrible disease and to talk about what can be done to fight it. Eastport Health Care is located at 30 Boynton Street. The Machias Health Center is located at 53 Fremont St.

Each year, survivors, patients, caregivers and others whose lives have been impacted by colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, get together to focus attention on the disease and to discuss what can be done to help.

“It is important that we here at EHC in Eastport and Machias join with caregivers across the country to be a part of this important campaign,” EHC CEO Holly Gartmayer-DeYoung said. 

Education is a big part of the March campaign, which is supported through the combined efforts of Washington County One Community, the Maine Cancer Foundation Grant and EHC.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if people 50 years of age and older received regular screenings upwards of 60 percent of all deaths from this cancer could be avoided. 

And the numbers are startling.

Colorectal cancer impacts about one in 20 people; it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the country; it impacts both men and women with men being more susceptible; African-Americas are more prone than other ethnic groups and 90 percent of new cases, and 95 percent of deaths occur in people 50 or older.

In addition, most screenings should begin at age 50, or age 45 for African Americans. The five-year survival rate for early detection is nearly 90 percent. That drops to as low as 12 percent when the cancer is detected at later stages. 

How do you know if there is a problem?

Some of the symptoms include blood in or around the stool, stomach pain that does not go away or a sudden weight loss that has not been triggered by things like diet or exercise. However, waiting for a symptom to appear is not recommended. Medical providers urge everyone 50-years-old and older to be pro-active and seek colorectal cancer screening.

What can you do? 

Ask your primary care provider at an upcoming visit or call to schedule a brief visit to discuss your options for these important preventive health screenings. There is a low-cost screening that can be done at home and then returned to the health clinic. The test is very sensitive and has no dietary restrictions and is easy to complete in the privacy of the home. The kits are available at the health clinic.  

If follow-up care is needed, EHC medical providers can assist with a referral to qualified specialists.

“We want to do our part here at EHC to draw attention to National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the ‘Turning Washington County Blue,’ campaign will do just that,” Gartmayer-DeYoung added. “We believe it is very important for those in the appropriate age groups to be screened and to encourage their loved ones to also be screened.”

For more information call EHC at 853-6001 in Eastport or 255-8290 in Machias.