Kenneth L Abbott, MD, FACP  |  4/21/2022

Heard It On the Radio

As part of Calvert Health System’s efforts in March to promote awareness about colorectal cancer, my colleague Dr. Arati Patel recently spoke as a guest expert on the “T-Bone and Heather” morning radio show on Star 98.3. For about twelve minutes on 9 March 2022 she enjoyed a lively interaction with the hosts and covered a range of related topics, such as screening tests, when to have them, what persons are at heightened risk, and the modern use of genetic testing to guide treatment choices when someone receives a colorectal cancer diagnosis.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Patel as she reflected on this experience.

That was a busy twelve minutes! What was your overall impression of the interview?
I had a fantastic time! All my advance preparation [she compiled over two pages of notes and topic prompts] really helped keep my thoughts and words straight and to the point.

It’s such a big subject, impossible to cover comprehensively in a short amount of time. What would you like to talk about if given additional opportunities?
People need to know the risk factors that can contribute to colorectal cancer development, especially the ones they can do something positive about, such as exercise, diet, and weight control. They should become familiar with the range of tests we have now to screen for colorectal cancer, with the pros and cons of each test spelled out so that they can make good, informed choices. And everyone in the community should be aware how much of an effort we put forth at CHMC to involve all the health care perspectives coming together from multiple disciplines to formulate the treatment plan that meets the specific needs of each individual patient.

For those who were not able to hear the interview, what were some of the important points you tried to emphasize?
Many people don’t realize that the recommended age to start colonoscopy screening if you’re at average risk has just been lowered from 50 years to 45 years. For reasons not entirely clear, the incidence of colorectal cancer in young Americans has been rising in recent years. We were all saddened by the loss of Chadwick Boseman, the talented young star of the 2018 Black Panther movie, to advanced colon cancer. Waiting until age 50 seems like it might be too long now. It’s critical to diagnose this disease, like any cancer, at the earliest possible stage. Early recognition and effective treatment produce the best outcomes. And on the point of treatment, advances in DNA characterization of cancer cells have allowed application of special drugs that can be much more effective than conventional chemotherapy agents in specific instances.

What is it like trying to talk about all these things in this format and with the time limitations?
Definitely a challenge. You have to be as structured and focused as possible and be able to think on your feet when the conversation takes an unexpected turn. The subject of cancer rates in southern Maryland came up. That’s a huge and complex issue, one that you can’t really do justice to in a fifteen-second sound bite.

We’ll have to make sure to cover that somehow, either here on the blog or perhaps some other way.
We’re always looking for better ways to get the word out about cancer care in Calvert.

My thanks to Dr. Patel for her invaluable contributions to improving the health of our community over the past two decades.
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