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Carthage pastor touts colorectal cancer screening

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CARTHAGE — Count the Rev. Thomas A. Sherwood as a proponent of colon cancer screening.

“It’s a little inconvenient, but it’s not painful,” the Rev. Mr. Sherwood, 57, said. “And it could save a life.”

The pastor of Long Falls Baptist Church in Carthage in late 2012 got a take-home colorectal test from Carthage Area Hospital through a partnership with the Lewis County Public Health Cancer Services Program, which serves Lewis and Jefferson counties.

“I did the little test,” he said. “It’s not difficult.”

After the test came back positive, the Rev. Mr. Sherwood underwent a colonoscopy in which polyps — fleshy growth on the inside of the colon that may become cancerous — were found.

Following successful surgery to remove the polyps, he was given a clean bill of health, with the caveat that he be retested in three years.

The Cancer Services Program covers the costs of testing and follow-up procedures for those who are uninsured or underinsured.

“I’m very grateful for that,” the Rev. Mr. Sherwood said.

“We want people to get screened,” Cancer Services Program coordinator Ellon Grunert said in a statement. “If a person is uninsured and has a screen that comes back positive, our program can help with the costs for the follow-up that is needed, like a colonoscopy.”

The Rev. Mr. Sherwood encouraged anyone within the recommended age group to get tested.

“It only takes one positive result,” he said.

All men and women age 50 and older should be screened for colorectal cancer, according to a release from Lewis County General Hospital and the Cancer Services Program.

“Although this disease can occur at any age, most people who develop colorectal cancer are over age 50,” the release states. “In addition, people with family history or personal history of colon polyps (abnormal growths in the colon or rectum) or colon cancer, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, are at greater risk for developing colorectal cancer. People at higher risk for colorectal cancer may need earlier or more frequent tests than other people. These individuals should talk to their doctor about when to begin screening and how often they should be tested.”

For more information, call the Cancer Services Program at 376-5453.

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