Sunset Park

NYU Lutheran joins nationwide colon cancer fight

August 31, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Dr. William Pagano, medical director of the NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers, signs the colon cancer prevention pledge as Christina Farber (left), senior director of primary care systems at American Cancer Society; LaToya Williams (center)  account representative of primary care systems at American Cancer Society; and Judy McLaughlin, RN, vice president of operations at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers, look on. Photo courtesy of NYU Lutheran.

Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in America — right behind prostate and lung cancer in men and breast and lung cancer in women — according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In 2014, 137,000 cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed in the U.S.

In response to the troubling health care crisis, the CDC and the American Cancer Society are redoubling their efforts to combat colon cancer by working together on a campaign called “80 percent by 2018” aimed at increasing the rate in which the at-risk population for colon cancer undergoes colonoscopies and other screenings.

The goal is to get 80 percent of the at-risk population to undergo regular colon cancer screenings by the year 2018, according to officials at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers in Brooklyn, who signed on to join the campaign on Aug. 27.

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The CDC recommends that colon cancer screenings should start at age 50.

The “80 percent by 2018” effort is being coordinated by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, a group organized by the American Cancer Society and the CDC.

NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers is a group of nine community-oriented health care clinics located in Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Park Slope and other neighborhoods. The centers operate under the jurisdiction of NYU Lutheran, the entity that owns Lutheran Medical Center at 150 55th St. in Sunset Park.

Dr. William Pagano, senior vice president of clinical affairs operations and medical director of NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers, said the centers have already been working toward the “80 percent by 2018” goal. “We’re making big strides in helping prevent colon cancer in Brooklyn,” he said.

As of March 2014, only 28 percent of the eligible NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers population had undergone a colorectal screening, officials said.

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This year to date, 44 percent have been screened, thanks to support from the American Cancer Society’s CHANGE Grant Program and funding from Walgreens. The funding allowed for patients to undergo a simple, one-time test called FIT, or Fecal Immunochemical Test, as a colon cancer detection tool.

Pagano signed a document to officially pledge the support of NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers in the “80 percent by 2018” campaign. “Now, with this pledge, we will push ourselves to work even harder to fight this terrible disease and protect the people of our neighborhood from it,” he said.

“Colorectal cancer is a major public health problem, and adults age 50 and older should be regularly screened for it, but we have found that many people aren’t getting tested because they don’t believe they are at risk, don’t understand that there are testing options or don’t think they can afford it,” said LaToya Williams, primary care health systems manager for the American Cancer Society.

FIT is now performed during annual exams throughout the NYU Lutheran Family Health Care Centers network.

The “80 percent by 2018” effort is attracting a great deal of support, according to the American Cancer Society, which indicated on its website, www.cancer.org that nearly 200 organizations have committed to joining the initiative.


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