Hattiesburg Clinic Physicians Host Free Colon Cancer Screenings
On Saturday, Feb. 29, 29 residents of Hattiesburg and the surrounding communities received free colon cancer screening colonoscopies as an effort led by Hattiesburg Clinic Gastroenterologyto improve screening rates in the area, ultimately in an attempt to save lives.
“While getting a colonoscopy is not the most ideal way to spend a Saturday,” said Gregory Owens, MD, a Hattiesburg Clinic gastroenterologist, “we take great pride in the fact that so many clinicians came together to donate this care to many in our community who would not have had one otherwise.”
Colorectal cancer screening rates in Mississippi continue to remain some of the lowest across the country, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.
Of cancers that affect both women and men in the U.S., colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. Unfortunately, patients who do not have health insurance coverage often choose to forgo the screening because of the costs.
“I’m just so thankful,” said Tammie Runnels of Purvis, who was referred by a primary care physician at Purvis Family Practice Clinic. Runnels has a family history of colon cancer. “I needed a screening. My sister had colon cancer, and we just don’t have insurance.”
“Every time we remove a colon polyp, we are eliminating a chance for cancer to develop,” said Owens. “Today, over half of those screened had polyps removed. Those polyps could have eventually turned into cancer. That’s a profound contribution to improving lives and saving lives.”
A typical colonoscopy for uninsured patients can be a substantial financial investment. The procedure expense, coupled with anesthesia and pathology charges, can become overwhelming and results in postponement for a simple but life-saving procedure. Through this inaugural event, these fees were waived.
The event was held in partnership with Hattiesburg Clinic’s Gastroenterology, Pathology, General Surgery, Anesthesiology, and primary care departments. Braintree Laboratories, Inc., and Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. provided free prep samples.
Individuals who have questions about colon cancer screenings are encouraged to talk with a primary care provider.