Community Partnership Brings Free Colorectal Screening Opportunity to Community

On February 9, 2013, officials from Jefferson Community College (JCC), Kinney Drugs and Samaritan Medical Center (SMC) announced a partnership that will bring a free colorectal cancer screening opportunity to community members 50 years of age and over.  

The announcement was made at the College’s 6th annual Super Science Saturday event, just outside a new educational colon exhibit purchased by JCC’s Campus Activities Board.   The 20’ inflatable colon allows patrons to walk through and learn about polyps, colon cancer, Crohn’s Disease and food-borne illnesses.   The colon exhibit was dedicated to the late Peter N. Gaskin, JCC Professor Emeritus.  Gaskin taught biology at JCC from 1964 until his retirement in 2001 when he began teaching on an adjunct-basis through 2011.   Gaskin passed away from colon cancer in May 2011.

Collaboration among Jefferson Community College, Samaritan Medical Center and Kinney Drugs allows the colorectal cancer screening to be provided free of charge to community members. Five thousand fecal occult blood test (FOBT) kits were purchased by Kinney Drugs and will be available at eleven Kinney Drugs store locations across the North Country. In preparation, kits were return-labeled and stamped by JCC students, faculty and staff, and American Cancer Society volunteers.  Testing and reporting of results will take place at Samaritan Medical Center under the direction Dr. Collins Kellogg and Dr. Shahandeh Haghir.  JCC nursing students will assist with the mailing of negative results; positive results and unacceptable test kits will be handled directly by Samaritan Medical Center’s laboratory.

Screening kits will be available from Monday, February 11 through Friday, March 1, 2013 at the pharmacy counter at all Kinney Drugs store locations in Jefferson County, Kinney Drugs in Lowville, and the two Gouverneur stores.  Each FOBT kit comes with detailed instructions and a return mailing envelope.  Postage must be applied by the consumer and in order to be accepted for testing, the kits must be returned to the P.O. Box on the envelope by April 1, 2013.   Testing is estimated to be completed and results mailed by April 15.     Results will be mailed to the address provided by the person picking up the FOBT kit.    

Also involved in the community service initiative is the American Cancer Society (ACS) Eastern Division and Lewis County Public Health Cancer Services Program serving Jefferson and Lewis Counties.  Donald Boshart, community executive of the local ACS and Ellon Grunert of Cancer Services Program were on hand at Super Science Saturday to give out screening kits to those aged 50 and over and provide information about cancer, prevention and support services.  LCPH Cancer Services Program offers assistance to community members who receive a positive screening result and/or who do not have health insurance or high out-of-pocket costs.  

According to the Center for Disease Control, of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and in women. Early detection is key to decreasing the mortality rate.     This is the fourth time colorectal screening has been offered to North Country community members free of charge.  In 1987, 15000 kits were made available to the public, 10,000 kits in 1989 and 8000 kits were made available in 1997 in third campaign.

JCC associate professor of biology Patricia K. Jaacks, who has helped spearhead efforts to launch this fourth early detection campaign, assisted with testing during the previous three campaigns.   "Thousands of people took advantage of previous screening campaigns and we found some persons that did in fact have undiagnosed colon cancer.  The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a simple, quick, non-invasive test that is collected at your home and can detect blood released from the bowel, which may be from precancerous growths or cancer.  This easy, painless test could save your life."

“We are thrilled Jefferson Community College is part of such an important public service initiative,” said College president Carole A. McCoy.   “As with most cancers, it is nearly impossible to find someone who has not been affected, either directly or indirectly, by colon cancer.    I’m appreciative of the work of all the partners and Dan Villa for their involvement in this free screening initiative and bringing attention to the importance of early detection.”

Given the prevalence of colorectal cancer, we are honored to be part of this collaboration and hope not only to promote patient health, but possibly save a life,” said David Adsit, R.Ph., Central Regional Pharmacy Manager, Kinney Drugs.

Frequently asked questions about colon cancer and colorectal screening are available on www.samaritanhealth.com.  Additional community resources include the American Cancer Society-Eastern Division 1-800-227-2345, and Cancer Services Program of Jefferson and Lewis Counties, 315-376-5453. Inquiries about JCC’s colon exhibit may be directed to Patty Jaacks, JCC, at 315-786-2347.