Cancer Education & Prevention at Southeast Georgia Health System

When it comes to cancer, knowledge is power. Education is critical to the prevention and early detection of many forms of cancer. And when it comes to cancer treatment, informed patients and families find it much easier to make important treatment decisions and support each other through a challenging time. 

At our Cancer Care Centers, we strive to make as many educational resources as possible available to our patients. If you ever need help finding more information about your type of cancer, please be sure to talk to your nurses and physicians. We're all here to help.

Dick Mitchell Health Information Center

The Dick Mitchell Health Information Center, located in the Outpatient Care Center on the Brunswick Campus, allows patients and their families to access a number of important research tools so they can learn more about their disease and its treatment.

The Center's team members and volunteers are knowledgeable about health information research. They can help you locate printed materials, as well as access databases and online information from the Center's computers. The Center is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Magnolia Resource Center

Conveniently located in the Breast Care Center (on the second floor of the Outpatient Care Center on the Brunswick Campus), the Magnolia Resource Center is designed to offer women a wealth of breast health information in a comfortable, lounge-like setting.

The Center provides educational books and brochures concerning all aspects of breast health for all ages of women. You'll also find  biography cards for a number of our  physicians at our Breast Care Center, as well as pamphlets from the American Cancer Society and contact information for their local office. Whether you're stopping by after a regularly-scheduled mammogram or making a special trip, we welcome the opportunity to help you find all the information you need.

American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based health organization that is dedicated to the advancement of cancer research, education and support at every level. Their stated goal is to prevent cancer, save lives and diminish suffering from cancer.

The ACS website is one of the most comprehensive online cancer research tools available, and contains a wealth of information about cancer types, stages, treatment and support resources.  You can access it at www.cancer.org.

Cancer Prevention and Screening

Southeast Georgia Health System in coordination with the Cancer Care Center is dedicated to cancer prevention and early detection, since they offer the best hope for a positive outcome.  There are a number of simple screening examinations that can help catch common forms of cancer in their earliest stages, when treatment is easier and more effective. We offer all of the screening exams discussed below, as well as many others your physician may prescribe.

Colon Cancer Screenings

The American Cancer Society recommends that average-risk men and women over the age of 50 should include colon and rectal cancer screenings at regular intervals as part of their preventive health care program. Average-risk individuals are those who do not have any family history of colon or rectal cancer or have any other risk factors.

Some of the screening exams recommended include a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year, and a colonoscopy every 10 years. Talk to your physician about your health history and which exams are appropriate for you.

Prostate Cancer Screenings

Average-risk men over the age of 50 should talk to their physicians or health care providers about screening for prostate cancer. The typical screening is exam is a blood test that looks for high concentrations of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which can be an indicator of cancer.  Testing may also include a yearly digital rectal exam (DRE).

If you have a family history of prostate cancer or have a near relative who was diagnosed with the disease before he was 65, it's important to talk to your physician earlier, starting around age 40.  If you do not have a primary-care physician, you can contact our Center to talk to a physician about screening.

Mammography

The Breast Care Center is specifically dedicated to the prevention, early detection and treatment of breast cancer. The Center offers state-of-the-art digital mammography, as well as a number of other enhanced technologies designed to maximize early detection and successful treatment.  For more information, please see our section on diagnostic capabilities. 

The American Cancer Society recommends clinical breast exams (CBEs) every 1-3 years for women in their 20s and 30s, and yearly mammograms for all women over the age of 40.  Women with a family history of breast cancer may need other yearly imaging exams, like MRIs.
 
At the Breast Care Center, you can rest assured that all screening exams are performed by skilled, experienced technicians and interpreted by highly-trained physicians. You'll also find the Breast Care Resource Center, where you can find answers to many of your questions about breast health. To schedule an appointment, ask your primary care physician for a referral, or contact the Breast Care Center directly at 912-466-5234. 

Wellness on Wheels

Wellness on Wheels (WOW) is a mobile health services vehicle that brings patient education, preventive health care and screening services to residents of Southeast Georgia who live in outlying or rural areas, in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. 

The WOW regularly travels to health departments in Southeast Georgia's rural areas, providing important cancer information and screening exams to men and women, regardless of their ability to pay.  Mammograms can be performed for any woman with a physician's order, and prostate screenings are available for men. The WOW also provides blood pressure and blood sugar screening, basic lab testing, EKGs and pulmonary function tests.

For more information about the WOW program and when the WOW mobile will be at a location near you or if you would like to schedule the WOW to come to your organization, please contact the Health Promotion and Wellness department at the Health System at 912-466-5160.

Cancer facts and figures

According to a recent study by the National Cancer Institute, the rates of new cancer diagnoses in the U.S., as well as cancer-related deaths, have been falling steadily. Thanks to advances in early detection and treatment strategies, patients are experiencing better outcomes every day. 

But there's still a lot of work to be done.  The American Cancer Society predicts that 50 percent of all men, and 30 percent of all women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lives.  Many of these cancer cases could be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices, like quitting smoking, proper nutrition and exercise.

Below is some brief information about several common forms of cancer. For more information, and for information about different types of cancer, please visit the American Cancer Society website at www.cancer.org .

Breast Cancer

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. Nearly 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to occur among women in the U.S. during 2009. 

After continuously increasing for more than two decades, female breast cancer incidence rates decreased by 2.2 percent per year from 1999 to 2005. The five-year relative survival rate for female breast cancer patients has improved from 63 percent in the early 1960s to 89 percent today-meaning more hope for thousands of women.

Aside from being female, the most important risk factor for breast cancer is age.  Risk is also increased by a woman's genetic makeup and a personal or family history of breast cancer.  For more information about breast cancer, please contact the Magnolia Resource Center in our Breast Cancer Center at 912-466-5234. 

Colon and Rectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women. Fortunately, incidence rates have been decreasing during the past two decades, due in large part to advances in screening and early detection. Routine screening for men and women over the age of 50 is critical, because early stage colorectal cancer does not usually have symptoms.

Age is the most important risk factor for colon and rectal cancer-a full 91 percent of cases are diagnosed in individuals aged 50 and older. When detected at an early, localized stage, the five-year survival rate is very high. Our Cancer Center is dedicated to increasing awareness about the importance of regular screening.

Lung and Bronchus Cancer

Lung cancer is very common, and accounts for the most cancer deaths in both men and women. Cigarette smoking is by far the most important risk factor for lung cancer. Other risk factors include occupational or environmental exposure to second-hand smoke, radon, asbestos, some metals (chromium, cadmium, arsenic), some organic chemicals, radiation and air pollution and a history of tuberculosis.

The one-year relative survival rate for lung cancer increased from 35 percent in 1975-1979 to 41 percent in 2001-2004, largely due to improvements in surgical techniques and combined therapies. However, the five-year survival rate for all stages combined is only 15 percent.

If you need help quitting smoking, please contact the American Cancer Society at 912-265-7117 for a referral to a qualified local cessation program.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. For reasons that remain unclear, incidence rates in African Americans are significantly higher than in whites.

As with many other forms of cancer, age is the most important risk factor.  Men who had close family members with prostate cancer are also at higher risk.  Early prostate cancer usually has no symptoms, which is why screening exams are important. With more advanced disease, individuals may experience weak or interrupted urine flow, inability to urinate, or difficulty starting or stopping the urine flow.

For more information, please see our section about prostate cancer screening. If you're due for a screening exam, please contact your primary care physician for a referral, or call our Cancer Care Center directly.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancers are extremely prevalent. The good news, though, is that most forms of skin cancer are highly curable. Treatment always includes removal of the cancerous skin lesions.

The most common and serious form of skin cancer is melanoma, and incidence rates have been increasing for at least 30 years. Important warning signs of melanoma include changes in size, shape or color of a mole or skin lesion, or the appearance of a new growth on the skin.

Risk factors vary for different types of skin cancer. For melanoma, major risk factors include a personal or family history of melanoma and the presence of atypical or numerous moles (greater than 50).

Other risk factors for all types of skin cancer include sun sensitivity (sun burning easily, difficulty tanning, natural blond or red hair color) and a history of excessive sun exposure, including sunburns and use of tanning booths.

Most forms of skin cancer can be prevented by protecting your skin from intense sun exposure with a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of 30 or higher. Make sunscreen a routine, especially during the summer in the sunny Golden Isles.