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DHR Health helping lead the way in South Texas in educating, treating, and saving people from another deadly “C” disease – colorectal cancer - Titans of the Texas Legislature

FEATURED, FROM LEFT: Pamela Bruce, Patient Navigator, DHR Health; Evelyn Sáenz, Renaissance Cancer Foundation; Cynthia Corpos, Patient Navigator, DHR Health; ElizabetRamírez, Practice Administrator, DHR Health; Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina; April Chapa, Community Outreach Coordinator, DHR Health; Raúl Garza, four-year colon cancer survivor; Dee Dee Salinas, Patient Navigator, DHR Health; Edinburg City Councilmember Johnny García; and Mario Lizcano, Administrator of Corporate Affairs, DHR Health. The city council on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, presented a proclamation recognizing March 2021 as “Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month” in Edinburg.

Photograph Courtesy DHR HEALTH

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DHR Health helping lead the way in South Texas in educating, treating, and saving people from another deadly “C” disease – colorectal cancer

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
[email protected]

DHR Health, one of the major medical systems vaccinating and treating South Texans for COVID-19, for March 2021 is leading the way in educating, treating, and saving people from another deadly “C” disease – colorectal cancer.

From having representatives appear in public forums, generating publicity in regional mainstream and social media outlets, and even organizing a “Strollin’ for the Colon” parade, DHR Health has taken a visible role as part of a national effort to prevent colorectal cancer. 

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., in a recent proclamation, stated that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.  

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum. These cancers can also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have many features in common.

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/what-is-colorectal-cancer.html

“The Colorectal Cancer Alliance reports that anybody can get colorectal cancer – any age, any gender, any fitness level,” said April Chapa, Community Outreach Coordinator, DHR Health. “Most cases of colorectal cancer occur in people ages 45 and older, but the disease is increasingly affecting younger people today.”

Anchored in southwest Edinburg, with a growing presence in neighboring McAllen, DHR Health offers some of the most comprehensive medical care on the U.S. southern border, with more than 1,400 nurses and 600+ physicians providing care in 70+ specialties and sub-specialties.

Chapa’s report came during the Tuesday, March 2, 2021, public meeting of the Edinburg City Council, where she and other hospital staff members were present for a city proclamation recognizing March 2021 as “Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month” in Edinburg. 

Joining Chapa at the city council session were:

• Pamela Bruce, Patient Navigator, DHR Health;
• Cynthia Corpos, Patient Navigator, DHR Health;
• Raúl Garza, four-year colon cancer survivor;
• Mario Lizcano, Administrator of Corporate Affairs, DHR Health;
• Elizabet Ramírez, Practice Administrator, DHR Health;
• Evelyn Sáenz, Renaissance Cancer Foundation; and
• Dee Dee Salinas, Patient Navigator, DHR Health.

“The Colorectal Cancer Alliance also reports that in 2021, an estimated 149,500 Americans will be diagnosed with this disease and an estimated 52,980 will die,” she said. “This is why it is important that we educate our community to be aware to be pro-active in Prevention screenings. Early detection can save lives.”

Symptoms can include blood in the stool; stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away; and weight loss without a known cause. But many cases have no symptoms, especially early in the disease, when colorectal cancer is most curable.  

 Asif Zamir, MD, FACG, DHR Health Gastroenterology Institute, in a news release, explained how colorectal cancer can be detected.

“Several screening methods have been developed,” Zamir said. “The primary goal of colorectal cancer screening is to prevent deaths from colorectal cancer. A colorectal screening can help identify cancer early thus, making colorectal cancer potentially curable if caught at an early stage. Screening can also prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing precancerous, abnormal growth called polyps before they become malignant.”

On Thursday, March 25, 2021, beginning at 6 p.m., DHR Health, and DHR Health Advanced Care Center will organize a Blue Car Parade “Strollin’ for the Colon”, which is free and open to the public. 

Cars will begin to line up at the DHR Health Medical Office Building, located at 1100 E. Dove in McAllen, beginning at 5:45 p.m. on that day. More information is available by calling (956) DOCTORS (362-8677).

“The ‘cruise’ is scheduled to remind Rio Grande Valley residents that colonoscopies are the most effective way to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer while raising awareness about colon cancer,” said R-Myna Evans, Marketing Executive, DHR Health. “The community is encouraged to attend the event in support of those who have been diagnosed, who are recovering, and those who have lost their battle.  Attendees will safely join the cruise in their vehicle, while wearing a mask, and showing their support by wearing or decorating their vehicle in blue.”

In 2000, President Bill Clinton designated March as National Colon (Colorectal) Cancer Awareness Month. Blue is the long-established color to raise awareness of the disease.

DHR Health is the flagship teaching hospital for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine and encompasses a general acute hospital with the only dedicated women’s hospital south of San Antonio, a rehabilitation hospital, a behavioral hospital, more than 70 clinics Valley-wide, advanced cancer services, the only transplant program in the Rio Grande Valley – and the only functioning 24/7 Level 1 Trauma Center south of San Antonio.

Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, Ltd (“DHR”) and its general partner, RGV Med, Inc. (“RGV  Med”) own and operate a 519 licensed bed general acute care hospital located at 5501 South McColl in Edinburg. The facility is one of the largest physician-owned facilities in the United States that began as an ambulatory surgery center in 1997.

DHR Health is headquartered on a 130-acre site, with most of the facilities in southwest Edinburg but with a growing presence in McAllen, including its South Campus located immediately across Owassa Road in northeast McAllen.

WHAT IS COLORECTAL CANCER AND ARE YOU AT RISK?

By Asif Zamir, MD, FACG
DHR Health Gastroenterology Institute

Globally, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in males and the second in females.

Annually, approximately 52,980 Americans die of colorectal cancer, accounting for approximately eight percent of all cancer deaths.

There are numerous risk factors that contribute to colon cancer, but age is the major factor. 

It is uncommon to see colon cancer prior to age 40, though some registries report a rising incidence of CRC even among young adults 20 to 39 years of age, even though the absolute number of cases in this age group remains far lower than for adults aged 50 or over. 

Other risk factors include smoking, alcohol use, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, low fiber and high-fat diet, sedentary behavior, occupational exposure to carcinogens, h/o abdominal radiation, and genetic syndromes that make a person susceptible to developing colon cancer. 

Family history of colorectal cancer, an advanced polyp with dysplasia, or a family history of polyps >1 cm in size is also some other risk factors.

Given the significantly high incidence of colon cancer, several screening methods have been developed. 

The primary goal of colorectal cancer screening is to prevent deaths from colorectal cancer. A colorectal screening can help identify cancer early thus, making colorectal cancer potentially curable if caught at an early stage. Screening can also prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing precancerous, abnormal growth called polyps before they become malignant.

People with an average risk of colorectal cancer should begin screening at age 50. Numerous screening modalities exist, but colonoscopy is the most common and reliable method. People at risk due to a family history of colon cancer need to start colorectal cancer screening earlier (at age 40, or 10 years younger than the earliest diagnosis in the family, whichever comes first).

Once colorectal cancer is diagnosed, the next step is to determine its stage. Colorectal cancer stages range from stage I (cancer has invaded into, but not through, the entire wall of the intestine) to stage IV (cancer has spread or “metastasized” to distant organs, such as the liver or lungs). Earlier stages of disease (stages I through III) are referred to as localized colorectal cancers and are generally treated with surgery, with or without chemotherapy.

Stage IV cancer is called advanced colorectal cancer and is generally treated with palliative chemotherapy; some patients may benefit from surgery of the primary tumor prior to treatment of metastatic disease, especially if the primary tumor is causing symptoms.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for a screening, individuals may call the DHR Health Gastroenterology Institute at (956) 362-9696.

A PROCLAMATION ON NATIONAL COLORECTAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, MARCH 2021

By President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

For my family, for the Vice President’s family, and for millions of families across our Nation, the fight against cancer is personal. Too many of us know the sinking feeling of shock and devastation when a loved one receives a diagnosis of cancer — too many of us know the unspeakable pain when the fight cannot be won.  Each year, colorectal cancer claims more than 50,000 American lives, making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths in our Nation.  National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is a chance to bring greater attention to this terrible disease and to offer what families living through it need most:  hope. In this battle, hope and awareness are intertwined.  

Because the risk of death from colorectal cancer drops dramatically when the cancer is caught early, we can save lives by calling attention to risk factors and increasing routine screening.  This month is our chance to improve public understanding of colorectal cancer risk, inform people about screening recommendations, and set our sights on broadening prevention strategies, improving treatments, and finding a cure.

Colorectal cancer can afflict anyone, but the risk is higher among some Americans than others.  

When we lost the trailblazing actor Chadwick Boseman to colon cancer last year after a heroic fight, it served as a reminder that this disease disproportionately impacts communities of color — and is particularly fatal among Black Americans.  

Age, too, is a factor, as the majority of cases occur in people over 50 years old. People with increased risk for developing the disease include certain racial and ethnic minority populations, as well as individuals with inflammatory bowel disease, a family history of colorectal cancer, or other risk factors such as tobacco use.  For more information on risk factors, you can visit http://www.cancer.gov.

As with so many diseases, the best defense against colorectal cancer is early detection. 

Symptoms can include blood in the stool; stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away; and weight loss without a known cause.  

But many cases have no symptoms, especially early in the disease, when colorectal cancer is most curable.  

A recent government study estimated that if all 50-year-old adults were screened for colorectal cancer, we could prevent approximately 35,000 deaths. That is why it is so crucial, especially for Americans over 50 or otherwise at increased risk, to receive regular screenings.  

And although the disease is relatively rare in younger adults, the incidence of colorectal cancer has been rising among this group. No matter your age, every American should take possible colorectal cancer symptoms seriously and bring them to the attention of your health care provider.

I know how hard it is right now to be mindful of preventive care. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted so many parts of our lives, including, for far too many, the routine checkups and screenings that are so vital to guard against disease.  

I urge every American to take the precautions they need in order to stay vigilant against cancer — don’t delay your recommended screenings, doctor’s visits, and treatments. You and your healthcare provider can discuss how to balance the risks and benefits of cancer screening, taking into account medical history, family history, other risk factors, and the time between screenings.

My Administration is strongly committed to improving the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer, and to giving every American access to quality, affordable health coverage. Because of the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans must cover a set of preventive services with no out-of-pocket cost.  

This includes colorectal cancer screening in adults age 50 and older. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, my Administration also announced a Special Enrollment Period for the Health Insurance Marketplace now through May 15th, so that millions of uninsured individuals and families can sign up for health coverage and gain these protections. I encourage you to visit http://www.healthcare.gov to explore your eligibility and get covered.

Above all, I want every family facing this fight — and all those that will in the future — to know that there is hope.  

As President, I am committed to ending cancer as we know it. That mission motivated me every day when I led the Cancer MoonshotInitiative in 2016 to speed up progress toward prevention, treatment, and cures.  

Thanks to that effort, researchers, oncologists, care providers, philanthropists, data and tech experts, advocates, patients, and survivors have joined forces to double the rate of progress toward a cure for cancer.  

One particular program, Accelerating Colorectal Cancer Screening and follow-up through Implementation Science (ACCSIS), has made strides to improve colorectal cancer screening, follow-up, and referral for care among populations that have low screening rates, including communities of color and rural Americans.  You can read more about this important work by visiting http://www.cancer.gov and http://www.cdc.gov/cancer.

This month, I encourage all Americans to talk to family and friends about getting screened.  If we look out for one another, we can reduce suffering, increase the odds of cancer survival, keep more families whole, and win this fight once and for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2021 as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  I encourage all citizens, government agencies, private businesses, non-profit organizations, and other groups to join in activities that will increase awareness and prevention of colorectal cancer.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

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For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).

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