March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in America, and the second leading cause of death from cancer. It affects people across all racial and ethnic groups, but is most commonly found in people over age 50.
If all patients over age 50 were screened on a regular basis, 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Use this month to raise awareness about colorectal cancer screenings and prevention in your community.
- Encourage patients to come into your pharmacy to get active, and to do so as a family. Exercise has the potential to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Talk to patients about the importance of getting screened for cancer starting at age 50. Patients with certain health conditions may be at a higher risk and may need screenings before turning 50. People who are at higher risk may need to be screened more frequently than those with average risk.
- Ask all doctors and nurses in your community to talk with patients who are at least 50 years old about the importance of regular screenings. Screenings should continue until age 75 as long as results are negative.
With the toolkit available from the Department of Health and Human Services at HealthFinder.gov, pharmacies have everything they need to make raising awareness about colorectal cancer easy. Other ideas include:
- If your pharmacy regularly sends out a newsletter to patients, or includes pamphlets with prescriptions, add information about how patients can live a healthy lifestyle. The toolkit includes a number of additional resources where you can find more information to share with patients.
- Include a badge on your pharmacy’s official website.
- If your pharmacy uses social media, tweet about Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and post on Facebook about it.
- Sponsor a community event that allows families to come together and learn about how to live a healthy lifestyle as well as local health resources available to them, such as where screenings are available for free or at a reduced cost.
As a pharmacist, you remain a powerful influence on patients. Working together with doctors, nurses, and local area hospitals, you can use your knowledge and education about colorectal cancer and prevention to spread awareness. Be ready to answer patient questions about the methods used to screen for this particular type of cancer and make sure patients are aware of the various risk factors.