Fight CRC is featuring their 24 ambassadors in a photo campaign in Times Square during the first week of March, including Dr. Carmen Fong, a colorectal cancer surgeon at Mount Sinai.
Fong has been volunteering with the organization for the past year to raise awareness about the importance of screening. She found out about Fight CRC and their work through social media.
“I was very curious and looked into it,” she said. “They seem to have a great platform for outreach.”
Fong noted that colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths behind lung cancer. According to Fight CRC, nearly 53,000 deaths from colorectal cancer are expected in 2021 alone.
“We’re not good in this country about preventive health care,” she said. “It’s not that patients don’t want to be screened, but no one talks to them about being screened.
“If patients have a primary care physician who is up to date, it’s more likely they will have screenings and diagnostic care,” Fong added. “They key is raising awareness among the public.”
Organizations like Fight CRC recommend screenings to start at 45 years old. According to experts, 68 percent of deaths could be prevented with screenings.
If caught at stage one, colorectal cancer is 90 percent curable. However, only 38 percent of patients with the cancer are diagnosed that early.
As a cancer surgeon, Fong said this issue is personal for her. Although no immediate family members have the disease, some of her friends were quite young when they were diagnosed.
She said colorectal cancer is starting to be a “young people’s disease,” which is why it’s important to catch it early.
“For me, it’s very gratifying that early stage cancers can be cured with surgeries,” she added.