Kalamazoo, MIWho is most at risk for colon cancer?  And, to what extent does a person’s family history play a role?  Those are key questions that noted cancer expert Dr. Henry Lynch will explore when he addresses members of the Kalamazoo medical community and the general public on March 8 and 9. 

Dr. Lynch is internationally renowned for his research on the link between heredity and certain cancers.  He is coming to Kalamazoo at the invitation of three area coalitions which have joined forces to raise colorectal cancer awareness—the Kalamazoo Colorectal Cancer Awareness Network (KCRAN), the Calhoun County Cancer Control Coalition (5Cs) and the Cancer Control Coalition of Southwest Michigan (CCCSWM). 

“Dr. Lynch conducted groundbreaking research that established the genetic basis of cancer”, said Tarun Sharma, MD, gastroenterologist at Kalamazoo Gastroenterology Hepatology.  “Without his effort, we could not be talking about this today”, he added. 

Dr. Lynch will be the keynote speaker at a free continuing medical education (CME) event for healthcare providers on Friday, March 8.  The CME program begins at 2:30 with dinner at 5:30 pm, followed by Dr. Lynch’s presentation.  He is also slated to speak on Saturday, March 9, at a health care conference which is open to the general public.  That event begins at 9:00 am, with a complimentary lunch at noon, followed by Dr. Lynch’s talk.  Both events will take place at the Gilmore Center for Health Education at Bronson Methodist Hospital and registration is recommended.   Contact Marybeth Peters at 269-373-7450 or email her at mpeters@wmcc.org to register. 

“I am looking forward to Dr. Lynch’s lecture,” said Thomas Gushurst, MD,
gastroenterologist with Bronson Gastroenterology, Portage. He added, “Recognition of patients with Lynch Syndrome is important in reducing our community colon cancer risk.”

The coalitions are also spearheading an initiative to provide free screening colonoscopies to 50 uninsured area residents in the second year of a program called “Blue Ribbon Days”. 

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in theUS.  Through screening tests, colon polyps can be found early and removed before they become cancerous.  Most people don’t know they have colon polyps which is why doctors recommend that people begin screening at age 50.  African Americans are at a higher risk and should begin screening at age 45.  Other factors that increase a person’s risk for colorectal cancer include being overweight, a diet high in fat and low in fiber, having Crohn’s disease and having a personal or family history of certain cancers.  They include colon, uterine and ovarian cancers as well as hereditary cancer syndromes like Lynch syndrome—named for Dr. Lynch—and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). 

Partners in the community colon cancer screening awareness campaign include:

American Cancer Society, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Borgess Medical
Center, Bronson Methodist Hospital, Calhoun County Cancer Control Coalition, Cancer Control Coalition of Southwest Michigan, Endoscopy and Surgery Center of Woodbridge Hills, Family Health Center, Bronson Gastroenterology Portage, Kalamazoo Anesthesiology, Kalamazoo Colorectal Cancer Awareness Network (KCRAN), Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services, Kalamazoo Endo Center, Kalamazoo Gastroenterology Hepatology, LifeLinc Anesthesia, Lynch Syndrome International, OptiMed Pharmacy, West Michigan Cancer Center and the Western Michigan University School of Medicine.