Often times people are reluctant to talk about certain parts of their anatomy and the problems that arise. Colorectal cancer is one of those subjects. But thanks to Pencor Services, Inc., it provided its employees an opportunity to learn more about this disease at its free Lunch and Learn program, a program offered to its employees on various health and nutritional subjects.

Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or the rectum and is actually one cancer than can be prevented.

Eileen Bahler, a clinical and community coordinator for Eastcentral PA Area Health Education Center, presented a Screen for Life program from the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute at PenTeleData's conference room in Palmerton.

Some of the facts she shared with the group were:

*Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States

*Colorectal cancer is the third largest cancer in the U.S.

*Both men and women can get colorectal cancer

*Colorectal cancer is most often found in people 50 and older

*Colorectal cancer risks increases with age

*Colorectal cancer can start with no symptoms

*Screening can save lives

One of the more startling facts from the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute is Colorectal cancer is significantly more common in Northeast Pennsylvania than the U.S. as a whole. More than 1,100 cases are diagnosed and about 400 patients die from colorectal cancer each year in Carbon, Lackawana, Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton, Monroe, Pike, Susquehannna, Wayne and Wyoming counties combined. These rates are about 15 percent higher than the U.S. average.

You may be at risk for colorectal cancer if you or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer and if you have inflammatory bowel disease.

Early detection is always helpful in saving a life. If you are 50 years or older, you should be screened. Screening tests can find polyps, a growth in the colon that shouldn't be there. Polyps or colorectal cancer sometimes don't have symptoms. Over time, polyps can turn into cancer. A screening test can find those polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. The screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early and when found early, the chance of being cured is good.

What are symptoms of colorectal cancer?

*Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)

*Pain, aches, or cramps in your stomach that happen a lot and you don't know why

*A change in bowel habits, such as having stools that are narrower than usual

*Losing weight and you don't know why

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor. They could be symptoms for something other than cancer but the only way you will know is to see your doctor.

There are different types of screening tests:

*Fecal Occult Blood Test or Stool Test, a kit you receive from your doctor or health care provider that you can do at home, return to the doctor or lab. This should be done every year.

*Flexible Sigmoidoscopy-a short, thin flexible, lighted tube inserted in the rectum by the doctor. Usually done every five years.

*Fecal Occult Blood Test plus Flexible Sigmoidoscopy-a better chance of finding polyps or colorectal cancer

*Colonoscopy-similar to the flexible sigmoidoscopy but longer tube that is inside the rectum and colon. Through this test, the doctor, if he finds polyps and some cancers, can remove most at that time. Also used as a follow-up test if anything was found using one of the other screening tests. This test should be done every 10 years.

*Double Contrast Barium Enema-an x-ray of your colon after ingesting a liquid called barium. This test is usually done every five to 10 years.

Most insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screening tests.

Pencor's Lunch and Learn program kicked off in September 2009, providing those who attend a free lunch as well as informative topics, such as: Ask the Trainer; Smoking Cessation; Gym/Fitness Center Membership; Diabetes Awareness; Navigating the Grocery Store; Fitness and the Outdoors; The Causes and Treatment of Arthritis; Blood Donation; and Prescription Drugs & Your Benefit Plan.

According to Joan Reinhard, Pencor's Wellness Coordinator, "The Lunch and Learns are part of our employee wellness program. Just as our employees provide the skills needed to make Pencor Services, Inc. a leader in the field of communications, it is the mission of our wellness program to provide the resources needed for our employees to achieve optimal physical and mental health. It provides employees the opportunity to learn about various health/wellness topics. They can use the information they learned to help achieve their personal health and wellness goals. For the company, having healthy, productive employees is the backbone of our operation."