The Colon Cancer event hosted Tuesday evening at the Eugenius Johnson Center by the Saba Lions’ Club together with the Saba University School of Medicine, received a healthy turnout. Carolyn Johnson, tapped as the next president of the Saba Lions’ Club, thanked Dr. Ramona Dumitrescu for the continued coordination of the community health awareness sessions.
The presentation was held by medical students, Alyson Singh, Daniel Butts, Jeremy Young, Nicole Kinyon and Sonia Hussain, who explained what is colon cancer, the causes, signs and symptoms, prevention and treatment as well as how to reduce the risk of developing it. The students covered aspects of personal history that increase the likelihood of developing cancer polyps, mentioning certain genetic predispositions but stressing the importance of diet and the negative link to cigarette smoking. They stressed that age 50 marks the start of increased risk, irrespective of gender, or of belonging to a certain predisposed ethnic group. A useful tool provided by the evening’s facilitators was the Colorectal Cancer risk predictor available through the Website of the US National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov). Colon cancer incidence with global statistics pointing to the increased risk in countries that have adopted a western diet was presented. It warned that at the incipient stages this cancer commonly does not present symptoms and that preventive testing is vital.
Symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, particularly red or dark red stool may indicate the presence of the cancer, so they should be not be ignored and should be checked by the doctor. The emphasis of the presentation was that this cancer is “preventable, treatable and beatable” with high cure rates at incipient stages but it can cause significant damage and death if gone undetected. Consequently, it urged lifestyle changes as well as medical screenings.
The students spoke of the protective effect of highfibre diets, eating fruits, vegetables, reducing red meat and exercising. They covered the pros and cons of various tests that can be done including a stool test, CT scan and the colonoscopy which is performed at the St. Maarten hospital.
The surprise of the evening was the screening of a recent interview with Saban native, colon cancer survivor Greg Johnson. The interview, part of a “Cancer- Fighting Foods” news piece on NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth, talks about Johnson’s life- altering fight with colon cancer since 2006, and the impact this had on his lifestyle choices. The Saban anti-cancer activist spoke about working the “will power muscle,” and his plans to participate this year in the Ironman triathlon competition, with the goal “outrun, out-swim, and out-bike cancer,” by raising awareness.
The evening ended with an extensive questions and answers session and conversations during the evening’s buffet.