Univera Healthcare (Univera) has granted $110,000 to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Roswell) in support of colon cancer screening and education. Art Wingerter, President of Univera, announced the gift at Roswell Park with Candace S. Johnson, PhD, Roswell President and CEO; Mary Reid, MSPH, PhD, Director of Cancer Screening and Survivorship, and Joanne Haefner, Chief Executive Officer of Neighborhood Health Center.

The donation is part of Univera’s Member and Community Health Improvement Initiative grant program. The funds will support a new navigator position at Neighborhood Health Center in Buffalo to provide underserved community members with education about colon cancer and assistance with the screening process through Roswell’s colon cancer screening and outreach program. The navigator will work closely with clinical providers at Neighborhood Health Center to serve over 2,000 people over the next three years.

“In New York state, 70 percent of adults between ages 50 and 75 are screened for colon cancer. That’s a good number, but it also means almost a third are not screened. Colon cancer doesn’t always show symptoms, so screening is critical to stopping the disease at a stage where it can possibly still be treated and even prevented,” says Dr. Johnson. “We’re so grateful for Univera’s commitment to serving the community by increasing the number of people who get the education and screening they need. This will make an importance difference, especially for a population that is historically underserved.”

Several screening tests can be used to find polyps or colon cancer. Colonoscopy is the most thorough screening test and is proven to prevent the disease. Removing benign or pre-cancerous polyps during colonoscopy can not only prevent colon cancer, but also can reduce deaths from the disease for years, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Don’t allow the COVID-19 crisis to be a convenient excuse to delay being screened,” said Wingerter. “Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among men and women in our state. Each year, about 9,000 people are diagnosed, and 3,000 die in New York as a result of colon cancer.”

Symptoms of colon cancer can include:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Stomach pain, aches or cramps that don’t go away
  • Losing weight and you don’t know why

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your doctor.

Colon cancer screening is recommended every ten years for all adults ages 50 to 75. Individuals who have colon cancer risk factors, including a family history of colon cancer, or previous polyps, may need to have their first screening at a younger age, and/or more frequently.