NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Slow down, wear your seat belt, don’t drink and drive, and put down that cell phone while driving. Those messages are among the warnings you routinely hear from law enforcement.
Now, law enforcement officers from Hampton Roads localities have another warning.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and seven area police departments in Hampton Roads are partnering up to raise awareness about colorectal cancer on social media.
The seven local police chiefs aren’t giving up their day jobs, but they are featured in a new American Cancer Society YouTube video that takes aim at the disease, which is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
Throughout March, encouraging messages from the police chiefs as well as educational messages from the American Cancer Society will also be shared via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts.
Each department will conduct an internal awareness campaign amongst employees and encourage everyone eligible to get screened and encourage their loved ones to do the same.
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. Rapid declines in colorectal cancer incidence occurred in people 50 and older during the 2000s, largely because of increased screening with colonoscopy, which can prevent cancer by removing premalignant polyps.
In 2018, the American Cancer Society updated the recommendation to everyone 45 and older should be screened for colorectal cancer. This change was influenced by the rising incidence of colorectal cancer in young and middle-aged adults.
Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone is comfortable wearing another hat: health advocate.
“We’re at that age all of us that we want to get screened. I’ve been screened myself three years ago,” said Boone while outside Norfolk Police Headquarters in Downtown Norfolk.
WAVY-TV Anchor and reporter Regina Mobley underwent the preparation and screening five years ago. The prep involves hours of cleaning the gut to prepare for a painless procedure that involves a scope.
Boone and Mobley agree the prep is more challenging than the exam.
“The procedure, I don’t even remember it. I woke up kind of woozy. It was less than 30 minutes,” said Boone.
The campaign comes at a critical time as new research reveals 12% of new cases will be patients under the age of 50. Additionally, Black Americans are about 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it.
The chief’s results were negative, but there’s family history.
“My grandmother was diagnosed at 70 years of age and she went on to live an additional 20-plus years, so early screening does work,” said Boone.
For more information about colorectal cancer and screening recommendations, visit the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org/colon-rectal-cancer or call 1-800-227-2345 to speak to a cancer information specialist.