The Life-Saving Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screenings

  • March 9, 2023

The statistics are eye-opening. According to the 2020 Data Report on Colorectal Cancer in Massachusetts, colorectal cancer is the most commonly diagnosed and third cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the state, with the highest incidence between 2012-2016 among Black non-Hispanics. Therefore, the importance of screenings and early detection of the disease cannot be stressed enough.

Whittier Street Health Center has hosted and continues to host specialized colorectal cancer workshops for staff on clinical guidelines and protocols on screening options, an initiative that underscores the value of early screening and proven strategies to reduce and prevent colon cancer.  We also conduct community-based outreach to deliver promotion of and education about the importance of screening and preventative measures as well as lifestyle changes to help prevent the disease.

Smoking cessation, a healthy balanced diet, limiting alcohol intake, routine exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight are all proven measures to help guard against colorectal cancer. Many medical experts often recommend a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – a healthy way of eating that may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and other chronic diseases, such as coronary artery disease and diabetes.

Early screening is of particular significance as people with colorectal cancer often do not  have symptoms in the early stages. Most colon cancers begin as polyps, small non-cancerous growths on the colon wall that can grow larger and become cancerous.  As polyps or cancers grow, they can bleed or block the intestines. Symptoms that may appear in later stages of the disease include diarrhea, constipation, blood in stool, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, and bloating.

“Screening exams for colorectal cancer can find the disease early when it’s most treatable,” says Dr. Stephen Wright,  medical director at Whittier Street Health Center, noting the disparate incidence of high mortality rates resulting from colorectal cancer in minority, low-income, and immigrant communities. “At Whittier we are dedicated to closing this gap by offering and delivering diagnostic services to the diverse populations that depend on us for high quality, cost-effective health care.”


A note about Whittier and COVID-19

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in our area, we ask all clients and patients to call ahead before coming to any of our sites. We are working to take care of most clients/patients via phone/video encounter so we can meet your ongoing healthcare needs. This is for your safety and so we can provide the highest quality of care to you while following CDC guidance for COVID-19. Please call 617-427-1000 for any questions or concerns.

Whittier will provide COVID-19 testing from 10 am to 4 pm on Monday to Friday. Following CDC guidance, we recommend testing if you have a fever AND one of the following three symptoms: cough OR shortness of breath OR sore throat. Please bring your picture identification and your insurance card (if you have insurance).