Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Members of the HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital – Highland staff and HSHS Medical Group staff signed the 80% by 2018 pledge to help raise awareness about colorectal cancer screening and to reach 80% screening rates for adults age 50 and older.

Colorectal cancer screening has been proven to save lives. HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital recently announced it has made the pledge to help increase colorectal cancer screening rates by supporting the 80% by 2018 initiative, led by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (an organization co-founded by ACS and CDC).

Colorectal cancer is the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths; however it is one of only a few cancers that can be prevented. Through proper colorectal cancer screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called polyps) in the colon, before they become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether.

“80% by 2018” is a National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) initiative in which over five hundred organizations have committed to substantially reducing colorectal cancer as a major public health problem and are working toward the shared goal of 80% of adults aged 50 and older being regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. Leading public health organizations, such as ACS, CDC and the NCCRT are rallying organizations to embrace this shared goal.

“This initiative is so important for the people in our community,” said Debbie Elledge, Nurse Navigator at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “Madison County has a screening rate of around 64 percent, but we are also very close to one of just three regions in the country designated as a hotspot. These regions have shown higher mortality rates from colorectal cancer. Most public and private insurance plans cover colorectal cancer screening for patients age 50 and older. Our ultimate goal is to educate people on the importance of screening, and to detect and treat this deadly disease at an early stage.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital offers many options for screening and treatment of colorectal cancer. More than 600 colonoscopies were performed at the hospital last year. Although colonoscopies are the preferred choice of screening, statistics have shown multiple barriers to this type of screening, including affordability, a lack of current symptoms or known family history, or simple perceptions of the unpleasantness of the procedure. The 80% by 2018 campaign provides vital education to patients not only on the misperceptions about colonoscopies, but on other options for screening, as well.

St. Joseph’s Hospital recently introduced a take home stool test called a FIT kit (fecal immunochemical test) which can be performed in the privacy of one’s home on an annual basis. These kits are available for $15 at the St. Joseph’s Hospital Spring Health Fair, which takes place April 18, at the Knights of Columbus Hall. More information about registering for the health fair can be found online at

While colorectal cancer incidence rates have dropped 30 percent in the U.S. over the last 10 years among adults 50 and older, it is still the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., despite being highly preventable, detectable and treatable. In fact, in 2015 in the U.S., 132,700 cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed. Patients under the age of 50 who may have symptoms such as blood in their stool, weight loss, persistent stomach pains, or a family history of colon cancer may also benefit from screening.

Part of the 80% by 2018 goal is to leverage the energy of multiple and diverse partners to empower communities, patients, providers to increase screening rates. The 80% by 2018 initiative consists of health care providers, health systems, communities, businesses, community health centers, government, non-profit organizations and patient advocacy groups who are committed to getting more people screened for colorectal cancer to prevent more cancers and save lives.

“We are very excited to be joining this initiative to improve colorectal cancer screening rates,” said Melissa Cates, Interim Chief Nursing Officer at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “We hope all of our community members will participate with us by getting screened and talking to friends and family who are over 50 years of age about getting screened. Together, we can help eliminate colorectal cancer as a major public health problem.”

Colleagues at St. Joseph’s Hospital, as well as members of the community are encouraged to wear blue every Friday to raise awareness about Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and Pulmonary Rehab Awareness Month, both which take place in March. Any group or business that sends a photo to Janice Korte-Couch at St. Joseph’s Hospital will be featured on the hospital’s Facebook campaign to support awareness. Photos can be taken with a camera or cell phone and can be emailed to

For more information please call Debbie Elledge at 618-651-2885.

SOURCEPhoto courtesy of HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital - Highland
Previous articleLady Indians Volleyball Championship
Next articleSecond Annual “Light The Way” Gala