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Press Releases

Pre-Cancerous Polyps found in 20% of Colonoscopies Performed at City Public Hospitals

HHC and Health Department Urge New Yorkers 50 and Older to Get a Life-Saving Colonoscopy

Mar 04, 2010

New York, NY

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) today announced that HHC doctors performed more than 21,000 colonoscopies and removed pre-cancerous polyps in about 20 percent of the cases at the city public hospitals last year. HHC doctors also removed potentially life-threatening cancerous polyps from 338 patients.
The findings show the critical value of colonoscopies in identifying pre-cancerous polyps and colon cancer early, when the disease can be prevented or treated effectively. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and HHC and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene urge all New Yorkers 50 and older to undergo a potentially life-saving colon cancer screening. Colonoscopies are available year-round at all 11 public hospitals at little or no cost.
“Unlike some cancers, colon cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable,” said HHC President Alan D. Aviles. “Since we began our annual campaign in 2003, the number of colonoscopies provided by HHC doctors every year has nearly tripled. Our goal is to make this screening test a routine part of healthcare for all New Yorkers over the age of 50. It is important for all of us to remind our family, friends and other New Yorkers about the importance of early screening to prevent colon cancer.”
“When it comes to colon cancer, one test can literally save your life,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Colonoscopy is the only screening test that can actually prevent cancer. Still, the disease is claiming the lives of New Yorkers every year. We will continue to work with HHC and our community and medical partners to raise awareness and increase screening accessibility.”
At public hospitals last year, doctors performed 21,662 colonoscopies to screen New Yorkers for colon cancer. Doctors removed pre-cancerous polyps – abnormal growths in the colon or rectum – from 4,331 patients, or about 20 percent of the total colonoscopies, which is in line with the national average of 15 percent for women and 25 percent for men. Cancerous polyps were identified and removed from 338 patients.
These statistics are available on the HHC website, www.nychhc.org/infocus, along with a variety of other quality and performance data from the public hospitals.
Men and women over age 50 should have a colorectal screening at least once every 10 years. Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer should speak with their healthcare provider about an accelerated screening starting at age 35 or 40.
In order to get this important message out, HHC will promote the month-long campaign with multilingual brochures, posters and postcards that will be distributed to dozens of organizations across the city. In addition, HHC physician experts will be available to press to inform New Yorkers about the importance of timely colonoscopies.
According to the NYC Department of Health, more and more New Yorkers are getting screened for colon cancer each year, and fewer New Yorkers are dying from the disease. Screening is up 57% since 2003, with almost 66% of New Yorkers over 50 getting screened (compared to just 42% in 2003). Deaths from colorectal cancer have fallen by 13% during the same period—from 1,638 to 1,419.
During March, screenings will also be offered at the private hospitals on Staten Island, Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital, thanks to funding from HHC. New Yorkers can call 311 or visit www.nychhc.org/hhc to find a screening location or learn more about preventing colon cancer.

Contact: Ian Michaels (HHC) (212) 788-3339

About HHC

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system with its own 420,000 member health plan, MetroPlusHealth, and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country. HHC serves 1.4 million New Yorkers every year and more than 475,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 70 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission’s John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit www.nychhc.org/hhc or find us on facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or twitter.com/NYCHealthSystem.