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Registration ongoing for cancer-screening program

Henry Medical Center is in the midst of an endeavor to educate the public about colorectal cancer.

Registration is ongoing to emphasize the importance of obtaining a screening for the disease. The project is part of a partnership with the Georgia Cancer Coalition and the Morehouse School of Medicine Preventive Research Center.

"It's to educate people about what colorectal cancer is, and how easily lives can be saved by getting screenings at the proper time," said Vicky Ayers, registered nurse, and nursing education specialist in Henry Medical Center's Community Education Department. "The American Cancer Society estimates that 141,210 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of the colon and rectum in 2011. Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis in both men and women, and second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States."

Colorectal cancer can begin in the colon or the rectum. In most cases, it begins in the digestive system and worsens over many years, according to Ayers. This year, she said, 49,380 men and women are expected to lose their battles with colorectal cancer.

Ayers said reasons why people do not obtain a colorectal cancer screening include embarrassment, lack of knowledge on the subject, fear of the test itself, financial concerns, and the fear of finding cancer. She said the hospital has developed a program for people to find out more about the disease.

"What people don't understand about colorectal cancer is that it is highly preventable, and treatable if you can catch it early," Ayers said.

Ayers said African Americans are particularly susceptible to the disease. The Colorectal Cancer Screening Intervention Program is the result of a study conducted by the Morehouse School of Medicine to improve screening efforts of African Americans in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

"Despite early detection efforts, the African American population has the highest colorectal cancer incidence and death rate of all racial groups in the United States," said Ayers.

The three-session program, will be offered at the Hidden Valley Senior Center, 600 Spraggins Memorial Parkway, Nov. 2, Nov. 9, and Nov. 16, starting at 1 p.m., each day.

"As part of an incentive to participate and get screened, anyone completing all three one-hour sessions will receive free prizes, a healthy cookbook and a fecal occult blood test kit. The take-home kits allow a person to check for hidden blood in the stool and consult their doctor for advice," said Ayers.

For more information, call Vicky Ayers at (678) 604-1040.