Health Commissioner Bassett, Council Member Cornegy Host "Gift of Life Call to Action" Event in Honor of Late D.A. Thompson

Colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer in NYC; screening and early detection save lives

March 31, 2017 — As part of Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett and Council Member Robert E. Cornegy Jr. were joined by Kings County’s Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and LaRay Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Interfaith Medical Center, to remind New Yorkers about the importance of getting a timely colonoscopy. More than 1,200 New Yorkers die from colorectal cancer each year. It is the second deadliest cancer in New York City, but one of the most treatable when detected early. The “Gift of Life Call to Action” event encourages New Yorkers to talk to their doctors about their risk for colon cancer and getting a colonoscopy. The event was held at Interfaith Medical Center, a community hospital that serves residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and surrounding neighborhoods.

“I’m proud to join Council Member Cornegy Jr. to honor the memory of the late District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson and support the ‘Gift of Life Call to Action,’” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We will continue to work with community partners and providers to encourage New Yorkers to get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. A timely colonoscopy can make the difference for successful treatment and recovery.”

“I am committed to promoting awareness of the life-saving services offered by the New York City Health Department and at hospitals and clinics throughout this City and here at Interfaith Medical Center,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy Jr. “The death of my friend Ken Thompson was a tragic loss, which I hope no one should have to endure. I want to thank my community partners for today’s Colon Cancer Awareness event and I hope every New Yorker takes the opportunity to seek out these important health screenings.”

“Interfaith strives to play a central role in the transformation of the communities we serve by not only providing high quality health care, but also working with others in the community to address health inequities,” said LaRay Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Interfaith Medical Center. “We are proud to celebrate District Attorney Thompson's legacy by helping the residents of Central Brooklyn live their healthiest lives possible. We are pleased to be part of this effort to reduce the incidence of colon cancer by providing access to screening, early diagnosis and treatment.”

New York City has made great strides in improving colon cancer screening rates. The overall screening rate has increased from 42 percent in 2003 to 70 percent in 2015 — a 68 percent increase. In 2015, the City also succeeded in eliminating racial disparities in screening rates between White, Black, Asian, and Latino New Yorkers.

Today’s call to action aims to raise awareness among New Yorkers about the importance of talking to their doctor about their risk for colon cancer and getting a colonoscopy. New York City adults aged 65 years and older get screened at higher rates than adults between 50 and 64 years of age (75 percent versus 65 percent, respectively). In 2014 and 2015, there was a gap between the rates of screening among the insured and uninsured populations. Adults aged 50 and older with health insurance coverage were screened at higher rates than those without (71 percent versus 50 percent).

New York City Health Department’s Colon Cancer Prevention Programs

Citywide Colon Cancer Control Coalition (C5)
The C5 is a dedicated group of stakeholders who work together to strengthen the Health Department’s colon cancer prevention and control efforts through workgroups and initiatives.

NYC Community Cares Project
Launched by the Health Department in the summer of 2013, the Community Cares Project aims to reduce the disparity in colonoscopy screenings between the insured and the uninsured. The program has expanded from six pilot sites to 50 clinical sites and has established 57 clinical partnerships between them. Over 2,000 uninsured New Yorkers have been screened through the program since its inception.

Colonoscopy Patient Navigator Program
This navigator program reduces health disparities by helping uninsured or underinsured New Yorkers get screened. Navigators are trained to guide patients through the hospital system and throughout the colonoscopy preparation and procedure. This program has been implemented in 18 New York City hospitals, including all 11 Health + Hospitals facilities. In the past decade, over 115,000 patients have received help to complete their colonoscopies.

A colonoscopy is typically needed only once every 10 years if test results are normal. Colonoscopies can detect precancerous polyps – abnormal growths in the colon or rectum – which can be removed before they turn life-threatening. Being 50 or older, having a personal or family history of colon cancer, smoking or being overweight or obese increases the risk for colon cancer.

To reduce the risk of colon cancer, New Yorkers should:

  • Get screened beginning at age 50
    • If there is an increased risk for colon cancer based on family history or other health problems, talk to a doctor to see what age is appropriate to start screening.
  • Maintain a healthy weight by eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly
  • Take steps to quit smoking



MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Julien Martinez, (347) 396-4177
Council Member Robert E. Cornegy Jr.’s Office: Simone Joye, (212) 482 -6676