March 30th is National Doctors’ Day. A day to honor physicians for all their hard work in ensuring their patients can live longer and healthier lives free from the burden of disease. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are witnessing doctors and other frontline health care workers risk their lives to help care for their patients, and we at UHRU would like to express our sincerest thanks to all these workers. Doctors’ Day was created in the early 1930’s after the wife of an anesthesiologist wanted her husband to be recognized for his work. She sent greeting cards and flowers to doctors’ wives on March 30th and had luncheons each year for the doctors. National Doctors’ Day was unofficially recognized for many years, but on October 30, 1990, George W. Bush signed it into law.
We encourage everyone to celebrate National Doctors’ Day by scheduling your next check-up with your primary care provider or scheduling an appointment to get screened for cancer. You can also use this day to reflect on the personal health decisions you have made so far and how you can improve them like routinely exercising, eliminating unhealthy foods and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
One way you can recognize National Doctors’ Day is to get screened for colorectal cancer. At UHRU, we have been working diligently each month to increase access to and awareness of colorectal cancer screening. Research shows that colorectal cancer screening not only saves lives, but also saves money, time, and unnecessary stress. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. among men and women. Despite causing so many mortalities each year, it can be prevented through routine screening. Unfortunately, there was an estimated 90% drop in colonoscopies and biopsies from March through mid-April 2020. This means there will likely be 18,000 missed or delayed diagnoses of colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, experts estimate that this means 4,500+ excess deaths from colorectal cancer over the next decade.
UHRU is currently working together with a group of other community organizations to increase access to at-home stool-based tests like the fecal immunochemical test (FIT). These at-home tests have become a more popular option for patients during this pandemic who want to maintain social distancing as much as possible. Once the test is completed, it can be drop off at a health clinic. An abnormal test result, however, must be followed up with a colonoscopy.
Today we encourage everyone to reflect on the health decisions they have made up to this point and how they can improve them. We encourage you to use this day to get screened or look into scheduling an appointment with your doctor to discuss screening. Regardless we are thankful for everything doctors’ do and the hard work they put in to helping each and every patient especially during this ongoing pandemic.