In preparation for colorectal cancer awareness during the month of March, Tammi Meissner, SEARHC Health Educator, partnered with the Public Health Nurse, Tari Esposito, in Wrangell, Alaska for a Sidewalk Mini Health Fair on Saturday, February 27, 2016.
While the Wrangell Public Health nurse focused on providing flu shots, Mrs. Meissner focused on providing the community of Wrangell with information on what Colorectal cancer is and when recommended screening should start. All but one person who stopped by the inflatable Mr. Colon was surprised to find that the recommended beginning screening age for Alaska Natives is 40 and non-Alaska Natives age 50.
People who stopped by to check out Mr. Colon (the blow up colon) were informed about Colorectal Cancer risk factors you can change, such as diet, physical activity, not smoking, and limiting alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day for men or 1 drink for women. Mrs. Meissner also shared the Colorectal Cancer risk factors you cannot change such as a personal history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, family history of Colorectal Cancer or adenomatous polyps (these polyps are the kin that can become cancerous), having an inherited syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP and Lynch syndrome), your racial and ethnic background and having type 2 diabetes.
Mrs. Meissner also let the community know that colorectal cancer is the leading cause of new cases of cancer among Alaska Native people. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Alaska Natives and that it can be prevented through screening. Colorectal cancer often has no symptoms so a colorectal exam is important to stay healthy!
You can help to prevent colorectal cancer! Support yourself, family, and friends by remembering or reminding yourself and others to get screened if you or they are Alaska Native and over 40 or 50 if non-Alaska Native, or have a family history of colorectal cancer. People talk to your provider about getting screened today!