Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams on Thursday kicked off Colon Cancer Awareness Month by hosting a community forum in the courtroom of Brooklyn Borough Hall where he joined colon cancer survivors, gastroenterologists and oncology nutritionists in highlighting that the disease is curable, treatable and preventable.
Colon cancer is the third-deadliest cancer in the United States and the third-leading cause of cancer death in Brooklyn, according to Adams.
The forum, sponsored by WellCare with partnership from Burger UrWay, P.C. Richard & Son, Target, and Whole Foods Market, included a discussion of the latest research on the disease, and important information on the impact of factors, such as genetics and nutrition.
In discussing the importance of preventive health. Adams also promoted his month-long #NoButtsAboutIt campaign to encourage mass participation in free colon cancer screenings being held for uninsured or underinsured persons, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, at 10 hospitals across the borough throughout the month of March.
“Colon cancer is one of only two cancers that can actually be prevented through regular screening tests,” Adams said. “We have lost too many lives across Brooklyn across every community to this debilitating disease, even when there are steps we can all take to proactively combat it. I urge all Brooklynites to get screened.”
Adams’ #NoButtsAboutIt campaign was inspired by his special assistant Gerald Marcus Harris, who survived a battle with colon cancer last year.
In recent weeks, Harris has traveled around the borough to speak about the importance of getting screened, with an emphasis on the fact that he was diagnosed with the disease at 37 years of age. Many medical professionals, including the American College of Gastroenterologists, recommend Black men be screened starting at age 45.
“Screenings are important because this disease is curable, treatable and preventable,” Harris said. “I hope people can learn from my story and take control of their health. Thanks to Borough President Adams for amplifying my voice, and the voices of all colon cancer survivors, through this public awareness campaign.”
Free colon cancer screenings will be made available for uninsured or underinsured persons throughout March, as part of the #NoButtsAboutIt campaign, at several hospitals in Brooklyn: Brookdale University Medical Center in Brownsville; The Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Greene; NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island in Sheepshead Bay; Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant; NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County in East Flatbush; Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park; NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in Park Slope; SUNY Downstate Medical Center in East Flatbush; NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull in Bedford-Stuyvesant; and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick.
To schedule a free screening at one of the participating hospitals, interested persons can call (718) 802-3847.
“I applaud the efforts of Borough President Adams in bringing people together to start this very important discussion on colon cancer,” said Dr. Cynthia Quainoo, internal medicine specialist at Brookdale University Medical Center. “Too many people have died from a very preventable and treatable disease.
“As an African-American gastroenterologist practicing in central and eastern Brooklyn, I have a unique perspective on seeing how colorectal cancer affects our community,” he added.
“Thanks to Borough President Adams for leading this effort to raise awareness of colon cancer to the people of Brooklyn,” said Dr. Iuliana Shapira, chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. “Our data suggests that compassionate and candid explanations of the value of a screening visit increases participation in screenings for both primary and secondary colorectal cancer prevention.”
Adams said central and eastern Brooklyn, in particular, have been hit particularly hard by colon cancer, especially among African-Americans.
He said men in East New York have the highest death rate for this disease in the entire borough. Symptoms can include change in frequency of bowel movements, change in consistency of stool or any blood in one’s stool, weakness and fatigue, or unintended weight loss.