Colorectal cancer screening pays off

By Dick Mason, The Observer October 26, 2012 01:31 pm

Public awareness campaign prompts La Grande woman to obtain screening that reveals precancerous polyp

The full impact of the Center of Human Development’s three-month colorectal cancer screening campaign earlier this year will never be known, but this much is certain, one 

La Grande woman credits it with preventing her from developing cancer. 

Information released by the Center of Human Development indicates that a 66-year-old La Grande woman is among those who decided to get screened as a result of the public awareness campaign. The woman is a friend of one of the people who appeared in an advertisement in The Observer urging people to get screened. She decided to have a colonoscopy after seeing the ad. 

Doctors found and removed seven polyps in her colon, one of which was precancerous, according to the CHD.

 The woman had last been screened 12 years ago. Her physician said that if she hadn’t done something (gotten screened) the precancerous polyp likely would have become malignant. The physician also told her  “don’t wait so long to get screened again,” according to the CHD.

The screening campaign ran from about April through June. The centerpiece of it were ads urging people to get screened for colorectal cancer and encouraging their friends and family to also be checked.

The ads were run on radio stations, in The Observer and at Granada Theater and were displayed on a billboard donated by Grande Ronde Hospital.

The ads featured eight Union County residents urging people to get screened. Some drew on personal stories, telling of loved ones who lost their lives to colorectal cancer. Others spoke as health professionals about the importance of being screened. 

Those who served as faces of the campaign included former Union County Sheriff Steve Oliver of Summerville, Union County Commissioner Steve McClure; Greg Monahan who then lived in La Grande but now resides in Portland, Kathy Thimmes and Jan Harris of La Grande and three health professionals — Tempie Bartell, a family nurse practitioner who practices in Elgin; Keith Graham, a physician who practices in La Grande; and Kim Montee, a physician who practices in Union.

Statistics released by the CHD indicate that the 66-year-old woman found to have seven polyps was one of many people who likely decided to received a screening because of the CHD’s campaign. In the seven month period before the campaign began, Aug. 2011 to Feb. 2012, 141 individuals were screened for colorectal cancer via colonoscopy at Grande Ronde Hospital— an average of 20.1  per month. In the next six months an additional 168 individuals were screened via colonoscopies — 28 people per month, an increase of about 40%. 

The CHD’s public awareness campaign was funded by a grant from Grande Ronde Hospital, said Natalie Linton, Healthy Communities Coordinator for the CHD. Linton said the CHD could not have conducted the campaign without the Grande Ronde Hospital grant.