EB: I’m glad that we’re addressing colon health in the Courier this month. Colon cancer is an aggressive disease that is highly preventable. However, it can be treated if detected at an early stage. Unfortunately, African Americans tend to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer at more advanced stages of this disease. This decreases their chances of being cured and surviving the disease. Personally, I know the value of screening for colorectal cancer. A few years back, my doctor had a conversation with me about my risk of developing colon cancer. He shared the importance of having a colonoscopy to make sure I was clear of any unusual growths. I wasn’t so much worried about the outcome. I didn’t have any of the common symptoms, which can include continued stomach pain, blood in stool or unexplained weight loss. However, it was still important for me to be screened to determine my colon health. I encourage all African Americans over the age of 45 to have a colonoscopy.

MAP:  As the health advocate for the Urban League Health Education Office, I always talk about risk reduction. These are actions that can decrease the likelihood that a person will experience disease. It’s something that’s very important to me. Often times African Americans forgo preventative treatment or screenings like the colonoscopy because they are unsure about what the experience will be like.

EB: Yes, and it’s critically important to know how to plan and prepare for this screening as it can take both time and the use of family and friends to complete the prep for this procedure. African Americans should talk with their doctors about the specifics of a colonoscopy. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek clarification. I’d encourage people to also talk with their health care providers about any concerns like transportation or scheduling that would prevent them from being screened for colon cancer.

MAP: I agree, Ms. Bush. I know this topic is one that can be uncomfortable to discuss, but it’s important to maintain a healthy colon. Thank you for encouraging African American adults to take a preventative attitude toward their colon health. I know that these health segments help all of us stay informed about health topics important to our communities. If anyone has any questions about the information on this page, email ­PARTners@hs.pitt.edu.

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