Local Doctors Take Aim at Colon Cancer with Community Colonoscopy Day
A team of South Jersey doctors and staff members spent a recent Saturday providing area residents with colonoscopies to help identify and prevent colon cancer.
Physicians at the Burlington County Endoscopy Center (BCEC) in Lumberton, NJ, performed the procedures for nine Burlington and Camden County patients who could not otherwise afford them. Funding was provided by a state grant from the New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection (NJCEED) program.
The nursing and ancillary staff from the endoscopy suite at Virtua Memorial Hospital, who work with BCEC doctors at the Mount Holly hospital, also got involved. They raised money to provide each patient with fruits and vegetables, as research shows fresh produce helps prevent colon cancer and other diseases.
“Colonoscopies save lives, but some people don’t have the resources to get them, and don’t know where to turn for help,” said Jitha Rai, MD, a BCEC gastroenterologist who thought up the colonoscopy day.
“By holding this event, we’re helping people in our community get this important procedure, and we’re building awareness about colon cancer and how to prevent it,” added Dr. Rai, a Moorestown resident.
The patients who participated in the colonoscopy day were identified through Virtua’s NJCEED program, a partnership between Virtua and the state that provides cancer screening, education, and outreach. NJCEED helps people who are economically disadvantaged and either uninsured or under-insured.
“About one in 20 people will get colon cancer in their lifetime,” noted Dr. Rai, “so it’s essential to get your colonoscopy to help prevent cancer or catch it early when it’s most treatable.”
She and two colleagues, Maurice D. Leonard, MD, of Moorestown and Monica B. Awsare, MD, of Lumberton, volunteered their time to provide the colonoscopies during the event. The doctors are partners in Gastroenterology Consultants of South Jersey, P.C., located in Lumberton. Eleven BCEC staff members and two providers from Society Hill Anesthesia Consultants worked alongside the physicians, choosing to spend their Saturday serving the community. Some of the staff members had a very personal reason for volunteering, as they have lost family members and friends to colon cancer. The eight-physician center, which is a partnership with the not-for-profit Virtua, hopes to continue the event annually in March during Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
A colonoscopy is a simple screening procedure that allows a gastroenterologist or colorectal surgeon to look at the inside of the colon (lower intestines) and rectum. Colonoscopies are recommended for everyone age 50 and older, and for younger people with a family history of colon cancer. For more information, see 10 Reasons to Schedule Your Colonoscopy Today.