By Tanner Coffman
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
This year, the University of Alabama at Birmingham aims to combat the disease by providing six resources to help define colorectal cancer, spread awareness of signs and symptoms, and educate the community on prevention strategies for the disease. These resources range from podcasts to webinars, to events around campus.
A valuable resource to learn more about colorectal cancer is through the UAB MedCast podcast episode delivered by UAB Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery Assistant Professor Drew Gunnells, M.D., featuring colleagues Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery Professor Rogeemon Jacob, M.D., and Associate Professor Moh’d Khushman, M.D.
In their podcast, Gunnells, Jacob and Khushman discuss major breakthroughs involving multidisciplinary colorectal cancer care. The most significant advancements discussed include more accurate staging, molecular profiling and use of circulating tumor DNA to assess disease response.
Also, the doctors note that COVID-19 protocols have highlighted the efficiency of using telehealth and exploring fewer radiation treatments when possible.
The webinar, hosted by the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement, is a great source to learn about preventing colorectal cancer. The guest speaker will be Director of the UAB Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery and Professor Gregory Kennedy, M.D., Ph.D. The virtual webinar will take place Monday, March 14, at 5:30 p.m. All attendees can join via Zoom or conference call.
The Rumpshaker 5K is a significant event for colorectal cancer awareness, research and donations. The 14th Annual Rumpshaker 5K and 1-mile Fun Run will take place at Regions Field on Saturday, March 26.
The Rumpshaker 5K event has raised over a million dollars to promote colorectal cancer awareness, raising funds to battle and treat it, and supply hope to colorectal cancer survivors and patients of the disease.
The event incorporates a pleasant, safe and friendly atmosphere for all ages. Participants can run either individually or as a team. Individuals can also volunteer for the event. Most importantly, individuals can donate to the Rumpshaker 5K organization by clicking here.
UAB Colon on the Corner is a virtual event aimed toward UAB employees that hosts an informative and enlightening video explaining colorectal cancer awareness and the importance of screening. At the conclusion of the virtual event, there will be a survey given to participants. Also, virtual attendees will receive a follow-up email with information discussing colorectal cancer and standard screening regulations.
The UAB Multidisciplinary Colorectal Cancer Clinic offers those with colorectal cancer and their families peace of mind through expert, individualized care. Because UAB is a teaching hospital, patients benefit from the most cutting-edge treatments and techniques. The clinic is a joint effort involving the divisions of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Hematology and Oncology, the Department of Radiation Oncology, and the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The clinic provides thorough and complete personal specialized care and treatment plans for patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The treatment plans are manufactured and created by a team that includes several physicians and specialists.
Their objectives are to generate a one-stop visit for wall-to-wall cancer care in a single convenient clinic appointment. This enables patients to begin their treatment plan quickly and effectively. These objectives allow the clinic to accomplish their main goal, which is to organize and maintain a state-of-the art approach to the treatment of colorectal cancer.
Recently, the UAB Division of Surgical Oncology announced its new Hepatic Artery Infusion Pump Program, or HAIP. This program allows more treatment options to patients with colon or rectal cancer that has spread to the liver. This treatment has garnered hope for patients dealing with colorectal cancers that have spread to the liver and have been told there no further options for treatment.
Doctors administer chemotherapy through an infusion pump, which may cause the liver tumor to decrease in size. When the liver tumor shrinks, it makes subsequent surgery more effective. Also, the pump can allow an individual to live longer when their liver tumor cannot be removed by surgery.
Physicians implant a pump — about the size of a hockey puck — under the patient’s skin. The pump is connected by a small catheter to the hepatic artery.
Through the infusion pump, the oncologists can deliver high-dose chemotherapy directly to the liver, with minimal systemic side effects. Surgeons usually implant the pump at the same time they are performing surgery to remove liver tumors.
Learn more about Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month here, including signs and symptoms, prevention, and screening options for colorectal cancer.