UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine - Spring 2016 - Page 11

clinical update Leading by Example: UAB Encourages Colorectal Cancer Screening The Power of Screening: J-P Dice By BEENA THANNICK AL and JOSH TILL “As an academic medical institution, we collectively realize the importance of this initiative. This is a responsibility we have, but it’s also a real opportunity to save lives and be an example to our community and state.” Edward Par tridge, M.D. UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center direc tor 18 U A B As one of the nation’s leading academic medical institutions, UAB and the Comprehensive Cancer Center are partnering with the American Cancer Society as part of “80 by 2018,” a national initiative aimed at eliminating colorectal cancer as a major public health problem by having 80 percent of adults ages 50 and older regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. Colorectal cancer is the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women combined. However, through proper colorectal cancer screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths called polyps in the colon before they become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether. As part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, UAB formally kicked off its own “80 by 18” effort in March. UAB leaders President Ray Watts, M.D., UAB Health System CEO Will Ferniany, Ph.D., and Cancer Center director Edward Partridge, M.D., have joined forces in a university-wide effort to reach 80 percent of eligible UAB employees to get screened by 2018. “As an academic medical institution, we collectively realize the importance of this initiative. This is a responsibility we have, but it’s also a real opportunity to save lives and be an example to our community and state,” Dr. Partridge says. “Colorectal cancer is one cancer that can actually be prevented and where screening can make the difference between getting cancer or not.” C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R In Alabama, a patient is diagnosed with colorectal cancer every 3.5 hours and someone dies of the disease every nine hours. Alabama has an estimated 392,100 people who should be screened. And based on data from UAB’s insurance carriers, it is estimated that UAB and UAB Medicine have more than 1,800 employees who should be screened. “We can do better as a community and change these numbers. Some of the screening tests may seem daunting, but there are several acceptable methods that are simple, safe and widely used,” Dr. Partridge says. “People aren’t getting tested because they don’t believe they are at risk or don’t understand their testing options, or don’t think they can afford it.” Regular screenings for colorectal cancer are recommended beginning at age 50 or at age 40 if there is a family history of the disease. Employees who are eligible at UAB have been encouraged to educate themselves with detailed information, to speak to their physicians about their history and to inquire about the colorectal screening options that are available. Common screening tests include a flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, CT colonography or double-contrast barium enema. Other tests include a guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or stool DNA test (sDNA test). In most of these cases, tests are performed every five to 10 years or, in a few cases, yearly. “We want to hammer home that this disease is highly preventable, detectable and treatable, but we need to take action,” says Dr. Partridge. For many residents in the Birmingham metropolitan area, WBRC Fox-6 chief meteorologist James-Paul “J-P” Dice is a primary source for weather news and updates. But Mr. Dice has another important role in the Birmingham community – cancer advocate. Shortly after turning 40 in June 2012, Mr. Dice experienced a tiny amount of blood after going to the bathroom. Because he had always been someone to go to the doctor if something did not seem right, he thought it would be wise to get checked out. Two weeks later, a colo