Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. among men and women combined. More than 140,000 women and men are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, but it is a disease that is preventable and curable when detected and treated early. Unfortunately, colorectal cancer often is a silent disease, beginning with no symptoms at all.
Cuyuna Regional Medical Center and Riverwood Healthcare Center both utilized direct mail, newspaper, radio, websites, community events, Facebook and other communication channels to inform individuals of why and when they should be screened for this disease.
COLON CANCER AWARENESS ACTIVITIES
In 2017, both organizations continued to strongly promote screenings for colon cancer among patients and the communities served through the below activities. While awareness increased, both organizations performed the same number of colonoscopy procedures.
- In February 2017, over 700 area women attended Health is Your Best Accessory to network with clinicians and area health experts. At the event women had an opportunity to learn about the risk factors and treatments for colon cancer and could take home an Immunochemical Fecal Occult Blood test. Sixteen tests were distributed at the event; the four-returned had negative results.
- During national Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Surgeon Dr. Shawn Roberts spoke to 21 people on March 28 about screenings and risk factors for the disease, which can include certain medical conditions and lifestyle choices that place a person at higher risk for developing colon cancer. To encourage screening for early detections, CRMC provided free screening test to those in attendance. A total of 18-Immunochemical Fecal Occult Blood tests were handed out with 13 tests returned. Three tests had positive results and of those individuals, two followed up with a colonoscopy. One individual had polyps removed, and both tests were negative for colon cancer.
- Internist Dr. Robert Cooper gave a presentation on October 24 to Cuyuna and Riverwood clinicians interested in understanding diagnostic criteria of colon cancer and reviewed the cause and treatment for colon cancer. Five physicians and 11 clinicians attended the presentation.
- On the clinical side, Riverwood formed a committee to work on improving the colorectal cancer screening communication process with patients who are in the target age group for colon cancer screening,
- There is now a folder and flyer in each Riverwood provider exam room with the process for talking with patients about colonoscopy screening and the alternative Cologuard or FOBT testing and how to order these. The completion of FOBT’s for an 8-month period in 2016 was or 35% (22 of 63 kits distributed completed), and only slightly higher at 38% (25 of 66 kits distributed completed) for an identical period in 2017.
- Riverwood’s Surgical Services department is inputting colonoscopy recall information into patient charts. This is a collaborative effort with the clinic staff who use work lists that are available in the Excellian electronic medical record, based on the patient health maintenance record for colonoscopy recall and past due colonoscopies. Once the health maintenance is up to date, patients on the list will be sent recall letters.
- In May 2017, Riverwood began sending a birthday card to encourage patients turning 50 to schedule their first colon cancer screening, including the phone number to call to schedule a colonoscopy. A total of 46 cards were sent from May-December 2017 with four people completing colonoscopies a nine percent completion rate.
To reinforce colon cancer awareness among patients and the community at large, Cuyuna & Riverwood will continue to do community outreach via social media and provide visible reminders of colon cancer screening guidelines at all facilities.