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Monongahela Valley Hospital Offers Free Colorectal Cancer Screening, Education on April 29

(March 19, 2015 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at age 50 should begin testing for colorectal cancer - cancer of the colon and/or rectum - a disease that affects both sexes equally.

Monongahela Valley Hospital will offer a free colorectal cancer education and screening program on Wednesday, April 29, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the hospital's Anthony M. Lombardi Education Conference Center.

A free take-home test will be given to all participants. The event is free, but seating is limited; pre-registration is required by calling 724-258-1333.

According to Andrew J. Zahalsky, M.D., director of Medical Oncology at MVH, colon cancer is a preventable cancer but it can often grow internally without any symptoms, causing many patients to go undiagnosed until their disease is advanced and requires more aggressive treatment.

"The overall numbers of cases have been decreasing during the last two decades because screenings have helped locate cancers earlier when they're easier to cure and our treatments have improved," Dr. Zahalsky said. "However, we can do better. Too many patients are diagnosed late, and advanced cases of the disease are very difficult to cure."

He said that an estimated 50,000 people will die from their colorectal cancer this year.

Most colorectal cancers start as pre-malignant polyps which then take several years to change into cancer.

Dr. Zahalsky said patients who undergo the appropriate screening tests with removal of pre-malignant polyps can prevent themselves from ever having to deal with a full-blown cancer.

Early detection leads to easier treatment and improved survival, emphasizing the need for regular screening. Treatment options are available, even for patients with more advanced disease and for older patients.

A distinguished panel of health care professionals will provide information during the presentation including Dr. Zahalsky, who will lead the discussion and provide information on treatments for colorectal cancer.

Registered Dietitian Krista Begonia will discuss cancer and nutrition and Oncology Clinical Coordinator Carol Manown, RN, will explain the free take-home colorectal screening kit to test for blood in the stool.

"Age is a major risk factor in the development of colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is much more common in people older than age 50 than it is in younger people," said Dr. Zahalsky. "People at high risk should begin testing at age 45; that's those with a parent, child or sibling who has had the disease."

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