Richmond Memorial seeks to increase colorectal cancer screenings

By: By Brenda Bouser - For the Daily Journal

ROCKINGHAM — Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and 132,700 cases were diagnosed last year.

Because proper screening allows doctors to find and remove hidden growths (called polyps) in the colon before they become cancerous, colorectal cancer is also one of only a few cancers that can be prevented.

FirstHealth of the Carolinas has pledged its support of a national initiative called “80 percent by 2018,” which seeks to increase the rates of lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings among adults age 50 and older by the year 2018.

“Although adults age 50 and older should be regularly screened for colorectal cancer, many still aren’t being tested,” said John Jackson, president of FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital.

“They either don’t believe they are at risk, don’t understand that there are testing options, or don’t think they can afford the cost. In truth, however, the vast majority of colorectal cancer cases occur in people age 50 and older, there are several screening options, many public and private insurance plans cover the cost, and local resources are sometimes available to help those who are uninsured.”

Led by the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, more than 500 organizations have committed to the “80 percent by 2018” goal to substantially reduce colorectal cancer as a major public health problem. They include health care providers, health systems, communities, businesses, community health centers, government, nonprofit organizations and patient advocacy groups.

Dr. T.J. Pulliam, of the FirstHealth Digestive Health Center at Richmond Memorial, calls “80 percent by 2018” a “very important goal.”

“Our service region is below the goal rate for colorectal cancer screenings,” he said “Hence, the more people who get screened, the more likely we can eradicate and prevent cases of colon cancer. Simply said, the more who get screened, the less likely that they will die of colon cancer.”

For more information about the “80 percent by 2018” initiative, go to

The FirstHealth Digestive Health Center is located at 921 Long Drive, Suite 209, adjacent to FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham. For more information or to make an appointment, call 910-417-4368.

Brenda Bouser works in corporate communications for FirstHealth of the Carolinas.

By Brenda Bouser

For the Daily Journal