Colon Cancer Is Preventable in any Language

colorectal awareness

Southcoast Health Cancer Center connects with the community to help prevent colon cancer

Thanks to a generous grant from the Colon Cancer Coalition, more than 30 non-English speakers received vital information regarding colon cancer and colorectal screenings on Nov. 6 at the Immigrants’ Assistance Center in New Bedford, Mass.

With the help of a Portuguese translator, Dr. Victor Pricolo, Chief of General Surgery and Colorectal Surgery for Southcoast Health, offered important details regarding colonoscopies, cancer risk factors and cancer screenings during the presentation, explaining that colon cancer is unique because it can actually be prevented.

A Preventable Cancer

Colon cancer occurs when growths — or polyps — located in the large intestine become cancerous. Causes of colon cancer are still not completely understood, but studies have shown risk factors include being African American, being age 50 or older, eating processed or charred meats, smoking and being obese.

“It’s estimated that 70 percent of colon cancer starts out as a benign growth,” Dr. Pricolo says, reiterating a point he emphasized during the presentation. “If someone has a colonoscopy and no polyps were found, they should be happy. But if someone has a colonoscopy and some polyps are found and removed, that person should be even happier, because they just prevented cancer.”

Making an Impact

Part of the Southcoast Cancer Center’s mission is to engage in community outreach, and Dr. Pricolo says delivering this cancer information to immigrant and non-English speaking populations is essential. The approximately $4,000 grant from the Colon Cancer Coalition was allotted to do just that.

“In this population of southern Massachusetts, there may be language barriers, financial barriers or cultural barriers, so we cannot expect all patients to come to the doctor’s office. We take the initiative and we go to the setting where they feel comfortable and can speak freely,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to really have an impact on prevention.”

In addition to his presentation, Dr. Pricolo made sure the attendees felt comfortable and were an active part of the event. Engaged and attentive, the crowd asked questions and shared stories about friends or relatives who had cancer.

By all measures, the event achieved its goals. As part of the accreditation with the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, Southcoast Health Cancer Center has the responsibility to measure the impact of community outreach. All participants were given a three-question true-or-false quiz before and after the presentation, proving that they gained colon cancer knowledge from the event.

“It was a success on many levels and it was a privilege for me to be there,” Dr. Pricolo says.

Visit the Southcoast Health Cancer Center to learn more about Southcoast Health’s cancer care.