As New York’s Colon Cancer Screening Rates Increase, Russian-Americans Are Left In The Dark

Colonoscopy Russian Community
Source: Tomasz Sienicki via Wikimedia Commons

New York medical advocates have been working to educate the public about colon cancer screenings. This includes getting a colonoscopy, the major evaluative screening procedure for corectal cancer.

The rate of colon cancer screenings with colonoscopy among the various ethnic groups of New York is rising, except for the Russian-speaking population.

New York City currently has a 67 percent screening rate. A significant jump from 2003, when only 42 percent of all patients received the potentially life-saving procedure. The colonoscopy rate among Russian-speaking New Yorkers trails behind the citywide rate, according to a release from The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.

Now, the Health and Hospitals Corporation is working with community hospitals and partners to better understand why the gap for the Russian speaking community exists. Local politicians, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny and Councilman Domenic Recchia are also on board to spread the word to their Russian constituents.

“Colonoscopy screening is largely unheard of in the Russian-speaking community…Russian-Americans are simply unaware of this beneficial procedure,” said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny. “The Russian-speaking population in New York needs to be informed of colonoscopy screening and the ability of preventing colon and rectal cancers. With the help of the Department of Health and the local hospitals, we can educate the Russian-speaking community in preventative screenings.”

“Each year, hundreds of New Yorkers die of colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related death,” said Councilman and Finance Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. “This does not have to be the case given the accessibility to colon screenings provided by public hospitals throughout our city. I’d like to thank the New York City Health Department and Health, Hospitals Corporation for making it possible that more New Yorkers have access to the best preventive measures that will ensure a long and healthy life.”

Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer, killing approximately 1,400 New Yorkers each year. Colonoscopies detect precancerous polyps—abnormal growths in the colon or rectum— which can then be removed before they turn life-threatening. When found at an early stage, colon cancer is 90 percent curable. Doctors urge anyone 50 years old, or younger if at risk, to ask for the procedure.