<><><><><>(BROOKLYN, NY – February 24, 2006) - Maimonides Medical Center today launched a new initiative offering colorectal cancer screening and treatment for Brooklynites, regardless of their ability to pay. Announced by Maimonides President and CEO Pamela S. Brier, the program aims to raise awareness among all New Yorkers about the importance of screening and early detection. Colorectal cancers are the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States.
“Colorectal cancer can be deadly, but it is preventable and treatable, if detected early with a colonoscopy,” said Ms. Brier. “Our goal is to help people understand the importance of this screening and make it easier for them by removing any financial barriers to the test.”
Joining Ms. Brier for the announcement was Louise Cohen, deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Maimonides and DOHMH are partners in the “Take Care New York” program, an educational initiative that provides New Yorkers with ten simple steps for longer and healthier lives. Step number seven is getting screened for colorectal, cervical and breast cancer.
A colonoscopy is a painless, outpatient procedure that takes less than 25 minutes. The procedure tests for – and can also prevent – cancer of the colon. During the test, a doctor examines the entire lining of the large intestine with a flexible instrument called a colonoscope, that can take biopsies and remove polyps. Polyps that are removed are tested, and most are benign.
"Colonoscopies save lives," said Ms. Cohen. "More than 1,500 New Yorkers die every year from colon cancer. These deaths can be prevented. We will continue to work with our partners in the medical community to promote these life-saving screenings."
Also on hand for the kick-off press conference was Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. He commended Maimonides Medical Center for taking the initiative in fighting this deadly disease, and urged all Brooklyn residents over the age of 50 to get screened.
NYS Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz made the most compelling remarks when he recounted the experiences of his late wife, Lena. Diagnosed with advanced colon cancer at the age of 40, Lena Cymbrowitz succumbed to the deadly disease two years later. Her courageous battle inspired the Assemblyman to educate the public on the importance of screening for this treatable cancer. Cymbrowitz also championed the building of a comprehensive cancer center in Brooklyn, securing state funding for the Maimonides Cancer Center, now named in memory of Lena Cymbrowitz.
Colonoscopies are recommended for everyone over 50. Those with a family history of colon cancer should start screenings earlier and be tested more frequently. Early detection of colorectal cancer is critical. Removal of pre-cancerous polyps during a colonoscopy can prevent cancer from ever starting, and cancers found early can be effectively treated. Too many people don’t get tested. Embarrassment and discomfort are no reasons to avoid a colonoscopy.
The American Cancer Society reports that more than 145,000 Americans were diagnosed with colorectal cancer last year, and more than 56,000 died from the disease. Less than half of all Americans aged 50 or older have had a recent screening test. The New York City DOHMH estimates that 250,000 New Yorkers have undetected colon polyps. Approximately 20,000 of them will develop cancer in the next 20 years without early detection and treatment.
Maimonides is reaching out to doctors and patients throughout Brooklyn with advertisements and flyers to make them aware of the availability of these colorectal cancer screenings. Colonoscopies will take place at the new state-of-the-art Endoscopy Center at Maimonides, and follow-up treatment, if necessary, at The Maimonides Cancer Center. To make it easier to schedule an appointment or get more information, Maimonides has hired a Patient Navigator who will help patients through the process. Call her at 718-283-7352. Patients without health insurance will receive assistance in determining how to get coverage for testing. If no coverage is available, Maimonides will cover the cost.
Maimonides Medical Center, a 705-bed facility serving the Greater New York metropolitan area, is the third largest independent teaching hospital in the United States. Widely recognized for its major achievements in medical and computer technology, Maimonides expertly serves the distinct needs of New Yorkers in a patient-centered environment.