Cooley teams with local health groups to encourage colorectal screening

FROM LEFT, William T. Chen, physician at University Gastroenterology; Dr. Thomas Sepe, president of University Gastroenterology; Ed Cooley, men’s basketball head coach for Providence College; and Eric Newton, physician at University Gastroenterology and a clinical associate professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, are encouraging people to get screened for colon cancer. / COURTESY UNIVERSITY GASTROENTEROLOGY
FROM LEFT, William T. Chen, physician at University Gastroenterology; Dr. Thomas Sepe, president of University Gastroenterology; Ed Cooley, men’s basketball head coach for Providence College; and Eric Newton, physician at University Gastroenterology and a clinical associate professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, are encouraging people to get screened for colon cancer. / COURTESY UNIVERSITY GASTROENTEROLOGY

PROVIDENCE – Providence College Men’s Basketball Head Coach Ed Cooley is teaming up with University Gastroenterology and University Endoscopy Group to urge people 50 years and older and those in high-risk categories to get screened for colon cancer as part of national colorectal cancer awareness month.

As part of a campaign to shed light on the prevalence and prevention of colon cancer, the partners have released a public service announcement featuring Cooley urging people to schedule a screening for the disease. The announcement will air in March throughout Rhode Island and southern New England during the college basketball NCAA Tournament games, the Big East Tournament and on various news and entertainment programming.

In light of the number of people affected by colon cancer every year, 40 per 100,000 men and women per year according to the American Cancer Society, Cooley recognized the importance of addressing the public health concern.

“I think it’s the right thing to do if you are a public figure and you are trying to help other people. It’s just the right thing to do,” Cooley said. “It takes five minutes and if you feel you can help somebody and help the cause, it’s why we are all here.”

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“We are pleased to partner with Providence College to promote this important initiative. Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but it is also one of the most preventable,” said Dr. Thomas Sepe, president of University Gastroenterology. “We are using this opportunity to reach families throughout southern New England and to urge those approaching the age of 50 to schedule their screening and reduce their risk of colon cancer.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are about 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer in the United States every year, and that one-third of those figures will result in terminal cases.

Eric Newton, a physician at University Gastroenterology and a clinical associate professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, joined his colleagues in stating that colonoscopy screenings allow doctors to find and remove polyps before they become cancerous.

“If we can influence a single person to check on their health status, our mission would be successful. Colon cancer does not have to be the second-deadliest cancer because in most cases it is entirely preventable,” Newton said.

Newton is joined by University Gastroenterology physicians Sepe and William T. Chen in the video.

Fans may have noticed the public service announcement on Saturday, March 3, when the Providence Friars faced off against St. John’s at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. The digital boards on the 60-foot LED screen were lit up with the message: “Over 50? Get screened for Colon Cancer.”

To reinforce the message, Cooley completes the public service video by saying, “If you are over 50, get screened; it’ll be the best move you’ll ever make.”

This is not the only awareness campaign that University Gastroenterology is undertaking this month. In an effort to reach an underserved population, Dr. Pedro Barros is spearheading a Spanish version of the campaign to alert Hispanic communities in Rhode Island and southern New England about the importance of getting screened. His efforts are drawing attention as far away as California, Texas and New Mexico.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.

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