Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month




The month of March is designated as Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. The Health and Wellness Committee would like to raise awareness regarding colorectal cancer and take action towards prevention.


What Is Colorectal Cancer:


Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.. Sometimes abnormal growths, called polyps, form in the colon or rectum. Over time, some polyps may turn into cancer.  Screening tests can find polyps so they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps locate polyps at an early stage of the disease, when treatment often leads to a cure.


Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death, for men and women combined, in the United States. It affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older. More than 90% of cases occur in this age group.


What Are The Risk Factors:


While we do not know the exact cause of most colon cancers, there are certain known risk factors. A risk factor is something that affects a person’s chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be controlled. Others, such as a person’s age, cannot be changed. Researchers have found some risk factors that may increase a person’s chance of getting polyps or colorectal cancer include;

-Age: your risk gets higher as you get older

-Having a history of cancer or certain types of polyps before

-Having a history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease

-Family history of colorectal cancer

-Type 2 diabetes

-Certain hereditary factors, such as familial adenomatous polyposis


Lifestyle Factors:


Lifestyle factors that may contribute to an increased risk of colon cancer include;

-Lack of regular physical exercise

-Low fruit and vegetable intake

-A low fiber and high fat diet

-Overweight and obesity

-Heavy alcohol use



Signs and Symptoms:


Colon cancer does not always cause symptoms at first.  That is why getting screenings regularly is so important. Symptoms may include:



-Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away

-Loss of weight, unintended

-A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days

-A feeling of fullness after a bowel movement, as if you need to have another bowel movement

-Rectal bleeding

-Blood in the stool

-Weakness and fatigue


If you should notice any of these symptoms, talk to your Doctor at once. These symptoms could be caused by something other than cancer, the only way to know the cause is to have an exam by your Physician.


How To Reduce My Risk of Colon Cancer:


Almost all colon cancers begin as precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. Such polyps can be present in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops. They may not cause any symptoms. Colorectal screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. In this way, colon cancer is prevented.  Screening can also find the precancerous polyps early, when there is a greater chance of treatment being most effective and lead to a cure.


The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 50. Since there are often no signs or symptoms, it is important to have screenings as indicated by the American Cancer Society, and to incorporate these healthy steps into your life-style.

-Begin screenings, colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test, (as indicated by your Dr.) starting at age 50

-Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke

-Get active and eat healthy

-Limit red, and processed meats

-Get recommended levels of calcium and Vitamin D in your diet

-Genetic testing may be indicated if risk factors are high






Source: American Cancer Society Publication: Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

February is Heart Month


With February our mind turns to thoughts of valentines and hearts. Speaking of hearts, did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States? Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.

The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.

You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk:

  • If you smoke, quit; and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your drinking to no more than 1 drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.
  • Eat healthy and get active. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, losing just 10 pounds can lower your risk of heart disease.

When it comes to your heart what you eat matters. Follow these tips for heart-healthy eating:

  1. Eat less saturated and trans fat. Stay away from fatty meats, fried foods, cakes, and cookies.
  2. Cut down on sodium (salt). Look for the low-sodium or “no salt added” types of canned soups, vegetables, snack foods, and lunch meats.
  3. Get more fiber. Fiber is in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

­Warning signs for a heart attack:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, and light-headedness

If the person shows any of these signs, call 9-1-1immediately.

Learn the signs, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives — maybe your own. Call 9-1-1.

Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too. It is best to call EMS for rapid transport to the emergency room.


Cardiac arrest warning signs:

·         Sudden loss of responsiveness

·         No response to tapping on shoulders

·         No normal breathing

If these signs of cardiac arrest are present, tell someone to call 9-1-1 and get an AED (if one is available) and you begin CPR immediately.

If you are alone with an adult who has these signs of cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 and get an AED (if one is available) before you begin CPR.

Use an AED as soon as it arrives.

Did you know that we just had CPR/AED/Heimlich training at the church on Sunday, January 31st?  Hosted by our church’s Health and Wellness Committee, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital provided three nurses, the equipment and the training. We had 22 participants!  The church does have an AED (automated external defibrillator) available.  It is located on the wall by the bathrooms on the first floor. Check it out – you never know when you may need it or be asked to retrieve it.
Karen Braatz, RN

Health and Wellness Committee