2008-10-09 / Front Page

Cancer symposium at Lincoln Center

The community is invited to a "Breast, Cervical, Prostate, and Colorectal Cancer Symposium" on Saturday, October 11, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at The Lincoln Center.

The event is being sponsored by the East Georgia Cancer Coalition and the East Central Georgia Health District to raise public awareness of these kinds of cancer and to disseminate new information about the diseases.

According to Marilyn Hill, director of the East Georgia Cancer Coalition, "There are two reasons we chose Lincoln County for the symposium: the high rate of cancer in the county and the fact that the county received a 'D' in the Healthcare Disparities Report, issued by the Georgia Department of Community Health."

She explained that the grade is based on the number of years of life lost due to poor health outcomes. "If the normal life expectancy is 75 years and someone dies at 50 years of age, you have lost 25 years of life. Why? Does the community lack access to health care providers? Are there transportation issues? Is there a lack of knowledge? Is nutrition an issue?

"All of these issues impact the African American population more frequently than any other ethnic group. For Lincoln County, the excess in premature deaths, attributable to racial disparities, adds up to 202.6 years of life lost annually in the African- American community."

Dr. Michelle Mason-Woodard and Dr. Robert Williams, both local physicians, are scheduled to speak at the symposium.

The speakers will cover various aspects of breast, cervical, prostate, and colorectal cancer, including prevention and treatment.

"There is no much new information related to the HPV virus (human papillomavirus), the Gardasil vaccine, and cervical cancer that we felt it was important to get this information out there as well as the current thinking on other forms of cancer," said Director Hill.

In addition to the symposium, guests will also be treated to a free buffet lunch, door prizes, and drawings for gas cards.

Seating is limited, so participants are asked to arrive early.

In other comments, Director Hill encouraged members of the community to make it a priority to attend the cancer symposium, especially since cancer is the second leading cause of death in Georgia.

"Breast cancer (31 percent of all new cancer cases) is the most predominant form of cancer found in females; whereas, prostate cancer (29 percent of all new cancer cases) is the leading form of cancer in males," she continued. "Moreover, close to 15,000 Georgians died of cancer last year."

Hill went on to note that the burden of cancer can be significantly reduced by the appropriate use of mammography, colorectal screening, and other early detection examinations and by preventing or stopping tobacco use, improving one's diet, and increasing physical activity.

Concerning the four types of cancer that will be discussed at Saturday's symposium, Director Hill shared the following statistics:

Breast Cancer:

.. One in eight American females will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

.. If breast cancer is treated before it can spread, the survival rate after five years is 98 percent.

.. White women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than black women; however, black women are more likely to die from the disease.

.. Among the risk factors for breast cancer are personal or family history, age, race (white), obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, never having children or having one's first child after age 30, and alcohol consumption.

Cervical Cancer:

.. Each year, over 400 cases of cervical cancer are reported in Georgia. Furthermore, black women are more likely to be diagnosed later in the disease process than white women.

.. Overall, the incidence of cervical cancer and mortality rates in Georgia are below the United States average.

.. Risk factors for the disease include HPV and/or HIV infections, smoking, family history, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, obesity, the long-term use of birth control pills, numerous full-term pregnancies, and use of the hormone DES between 1940 and 1971.

Prostate Cancer:

.. Prostate cancer accounts for 29 percent of all new cancer cases among males.

.. The prostate cancer incidence rate among black males is 78 percent higher than among white males in Georgia.

.. One in six American males will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime.

.. Risk factors for the disease include increasing age, race (black), family history, and obesity.

Colorectal Cancer:

.. Over 3,690 new cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed in Georgia last year.

.. Among the risk factors for colorectal cancer are age, a personal and/or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, a high-fat and/or low-fiber diet, inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables, and obesity.

.. This type of cancer can be prevented by managing modifiable risk factors such as diet and physical activity and by screening to enable the detection and removal of precancerous polyps.

For more information about the cancer symposium, call 1-706-667- 4283.

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