Health System at Phoebe is leading the battle against Colorectal Cancer

When this year National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) announced a goal of reducing 80% of the Colorectal Cancer by 2018, it chose Phoebe among four honorees for this year’s “80 percent by 2018” National Achievement Awards. Phoebe Putney Health System was recognized as leading hospital in the United States in an effort to put an end to the colon cancer.

The cancer coalition of South Georgia was formed when Phoebe joined Albany Area Primary Healthcare (AAPHC), the health department and many other regional hospitals. The coalition helped control cancer in Terrell County some 10 years ago, when county had 47% of the colorectal cancer rate, highest in the country. AAPHC was a sole medical provider in the whole county.

According to Dr. Jim Hotz, clinical services provider for AAPHC, there are hundreds of people who are saved as screening rate has climbed significantly in recent year. The proportion of screening increased from 26% to 73% at AAPHC. The goal is to take this rate to above 80%.

“Within the next one or two years, we can get there. I think it is a doable thing … We are stretching our people to accomplish something they don’t ordinarily accomplish. Of 1,000 (who go unscreened) after 50, 32 can die. We can take it down to 10,” said Hotz. He called it one of the strongest Public Health movements going on right now.

Dr. Ira Knepp, a physician with Phoebe Gastroenterology Associates, said that colon is a hollow organ and cancer may go unnoticed. In most of the cases, it is preventable, but one cannot rely on symptoms as by that time it is already too late which could reduce complete recovery.

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