Colorectal cancer awareness ribbon

March Is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March 24, 2023

Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the United States. Roughly one in 24 people will be diagnosed at some point in their lives. But if detected early enough, it’s also one of the most treatable forms of cancer.

Every March, during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we work to spotlight this disease and remind our patients of the importance of getting checked starting at age 45:

  • Approximately 60% of adults age 45 and older in the United States get screened, including about three-quarters BILH patients who meet the recommendations.
  • Screening can reveal the warning signs of colon and rectal cancer, letting clinicians take prompt action to prevent the disease from getting worse.
  • Screening can also detect colorectal cancer early, when treatment is most effective.

This past November, supported by a generous donation from Harvard’s CRICO insurance program, BILH established its Colorectal Cancer Ambulatory Safety Net (ASN) program across the entire BILH system. This program gives specialists the tools they need to make faster and more accurate cancer diagnoses and ensure patients get the treatment they need as soon as possible. The ASN program also helps identify patients at higher risk of colorectal cancer so they can receive further, abnormal screening.

BILH’s own Dr. Randall Fenton, regional medical director, has experienced firsthand the impact a delayed diagnosis of colon cancer can have on patients and their loved ones. He admits he waited past the recommended age to begin regular colon cancer screenings, which resulted in what could have been a benign polyp becoming cancerous.

“As a physician, I appreciate that BILH has instituted an Ambulatory Safety Net program in order to address potential delays in care. But as a patient and survivor of colorectal cancer, I am more than appreciative — I am enthused and inspired! I now appreciate the urgency of timely screening and diagnosis,” Dr. Fenton said.

The BILH Colorectal Cancer ASN program partners with both primary care physicians and other specialists, such as gastroenterologists, to reduce the risk of delayed cancer diagnoses in our patients. Just a few months since the program was established, it has already seen an increase in the number of patients following up after an abnormal screening.

BILH is proud of the progress made by the colorectal cancer ASN program to advance the quality and safety of patient care. Over the coming months, we look forward to continuing to extend the program across our system while establishing additional programs for breast, lung and prostate cancer throughout 2024.

To learn more about BILH’s ASN program, contact Jason Nigrosh.