City shining a blue light on colorectal cancer

Journal file photo One of the Willkommen signs in New Ulm glowed in blue light last year, as part of the campaign to draw attention to colorectal cancer. Various signs and landmarks will be bathed in blue light again this year.

NEW ULM — March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month and New Ulm is shining a light on this disease by lighting up several places in the community.

The city authorizes a blue night-time illumination at Hermann Monument, Defenders Monument and Gertie the Goose. Other organizations in town are joining in with blue lighting symbolizing colorectal cancer. The New Ulm Willkommen signs, Goosetown Fire Station, the Martin Luther College Sign are a few of the other locations going blue in March.

“I think New Ulm could have the most illuminated site,” Dr. Ann Vogel said.

Vogel has led the charge in New Ulm to raise awareness about colorectal cancer. Vogel said colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women, but it is also one of the most preventable. If caught early, colorectal cancer can be easily treated.

Colonoscopy is the standard test for colorectal cancer, but there are other at-home options. Vogel said the COVID-19 pandemic has become an obstacle for screening. With the pandemic, people are hesitant to come to the hospital for screening and some have lost medical insurance coverage. She recommends coming to the hospital to find the best option.

“There are several ways to be tested,” Vogel said. “Ask your physician which is best.”

Early screening is the best way to prevent developing this type of cancer. Vogel said the reason it is the second leading cause of cancer death is that many never go through the screening until it is too late. The early stages of colorectal cancer are asymptomatic. Those with this cancer will not see the signs until it has already advanced to an extreme case.

The American Cancer Society recommends screening for colon and rectal cancer at age 45 for average-risk individuals. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps should start screening earlier. One in 23 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer in their lifetime.

According to the American Cancer Society, the rate of colorectal cancer diagnosis has dropped since the mid-1980s due to more people getting screened, but the downward trend is mostly seen in older adults. Colorectal cancer has been on the rise in people younger than 50.


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