ALTON — OSF St. Anthony’s Health Center, 1 St. Anthony’s Way in Alton, in April fulfilled a commitment to Riverbend residents to provide education on colorectal cancer and information on screenings for the disease.
“Colorectal cancer is one of the top five cancers we see in this area,” said Angela Knight, manager of oncology services at OSF St. Anthony’s. “We are happy to provide screening here, and have physicians available to help.”
Along with more than 1,000 other organizations nationwide, OSF St. Anthony’s physicians and staff signed a pledge with the 80 Percent by 2018 Initiative, associated with the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, to dramatically increase screenings over the next few years.
“OSF St. Anthony’s is the only (institution) in the Alton area who has signed the pledge,” said Linda Schulz, health systems manager with the American Cancer Society. “All physicians in OSF physicians’ group are engaged.”
Radiation oncologist Dr. James Piephoff said he is glad to be on board with the initiative and is passionate about providing education regarding colorectal cancer and guiding residents down a path toward prevention, often through community screenings.
“Colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable,” he said.
Those most encouraged to receive regular screenings are individuals older than 50, unless there is a family history of the disease. There are additional risk factors other than age or heredity, however, which make regular screenings for colorectal cancer a wise choice. Some of these include a history of colorectal polyps, a history of inflammatory bowel disease and type II diabetes.
There are risk factors for the disease that can be avoided by making healthier lifestyle choices, such as being overweight or obese, lack of physical activity, heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, and a diet high in red meat.
But whether risk factors are brought about by poor choices or not, regular screenings can often be the difference between life and death. Those at OSF St. Anthony’s Health Center are dedicated to providing residents with the resources they need to obtain whatever screenings may be necessary, according to an individual’s risk.
“We need to offer people an option for testing, and then get it done,” Knight said.
There are several ways to screen for colorectal cancer, including stool samples and colonoscopy. Making an appointment with one of the physicians at OSF St. Anthony’s physicians’ group is the first step in determining what’s best for each individual.
“The best test is the one that gets done,” Piephoff said.
For more information on the 80 Percent by 2018 Initiative, colorectal cancer or to learn more about screenings, call (618) 462-2222 or (618) 463-4625.