Colorectal Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood

1. Colorectal Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood.

Colorectal Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood is an innovative program of MedStar Washington Hospital Center where a group of community navigators work in partnership with community-based organizations to serve underrepresented populations to deliver approved colorectal cancer screening information and conduct culturally-tailored outreach within Washington, D.C.'s Ward 5.

In collaboration with the American Cancer Society and Cigna Foundation, the navigators and partnership members identify evidence-based resources for use within local communities with ethnically sensitive navigation as part of colorectal cancer screening and follow-up care after screening. Focused on reducing structural and economic barriers to colorectal cancer screening, these resources will be a key component of the initiative. 

2. 80% by 2018 Campaign

The 80% by 2018 campaign is a movement in which hundreds of organizations have committed to eliminating colorectal cancer as a major public health problem and are working toward the shared goal of reaching an 80% colorectal cancer screening rate of eligible individuals by 2018. MedStar Washington Hospital Center has signed the pledge to reach this goal.

Any organization can sign the pledge to reach 80% screened for colorectal cancer by 2018, including, medical practices, hospitals, insurers, employers, and community organizations. You can access the pledge and other relevant tools and resources at The 80 campaign is spearheaded by a National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable and American Cancer Society partnership.

3. Early Screening Saves Lives

MedStar Washington Hospital Center's Ward 5 Colorectal Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood Project

FACT: Women and men 50 years and older living in the District's Ward 5 neighborhoods had some of the highest rates of advanced late stage colorectal cancer diagnosis in the city.

Why is it important to find colorectal cancer early? Regular screening can often find colorectal cancer early, when it is most likely to be curable. But only about 4 out of 10 colorectal cancers are found at this early stage.

Through screenings such as a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year or a colonoscopy every 10 years, colorectal cancer can be detected months or years before the tumor can be felt by you or your doctor.

This project provides community education presentations as well a FOBT home Kit to Ward 5 residents who are 50 years and older. We will follow up with the participants with the results and will help navigate if they need a colonoscopy.

To obtain a kit and/or get more information about community presentations on the subject, contact Ms. Courtney Williams at 202-710-0298 or [email protected].

Make an Appointment

For an appointment with a specialist, call  


Find a Doctor 

Our providers can find the best solution just for you.

Read More in Our Blog

Preventing Colon Cancer

A Patient With A Purpose: Battle Colon Cancer

Learn More

Hear from one of our colorectal cancer surgeons.

Learn more about the MedStar Cancer Care Network.

Colorectal cancer symptoms and risks.


Exercise Can Lower Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Getting active to stay healthy

Studies cited by the National Cancer Institute have found adults who increase their physical activity can reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer by 30 to 40 percent compared to people who don’t exercise. But how much exercise do you need?  Fortunately, even a little exercise every week can help lower your risk.

“I tell patients that if they’re breaking a sweat for about 20 minutes at a time two to three times a week, that seems to be enough,” says Dr. James FitzGerald, a colon and rectal surgeon at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.  “You don’t have to live at the gym or train for marathons. Take a brisk walk around the block once a day, or watch your favorite TV show while you walk on the treadmill.”

Some other examples of moderate exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), include: aerobics, biking, climbing stairs or using a stair climber, dancing, playing basketball, swimming and yoga.  Just be sure to consult with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise plan, especially if you have conditions like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or other serious conditions.

Exercise even helps after a patient has had surgery to treat colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society notes that people who exercise regularly after being treated for colorectal cancer have a lower chance of the disease coming back, as well as a lower chance of dying from the disease. In addition, exercise has been linked to an improved quality of life and less fatigue after colorectal surgery.

But what about if you have never exercised before?  For older adults, making that sort of lifestyle change isn’t always easy.

“It can be intimidating to walk into the local gym and get started on a fitness plan, but I encourage my patients to do what they can,” says Dr. FitzGerald. “Even little changes in their activities or walking just a little bit can benefit them in the long term.”

Other steps you can take in addition to exercise

And exercise isn’t the only thing you can do to lower your risk for colorectal cancer.  Certain lifestyle and dietary modifications can also help.

“You should try to eat a low-glycemic-index diet with more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and don’t eat as many red and processed meats like beef, pork, hot dogs and bologna,” says Dr. FitzGerald.  “Try to quit smoking and avoid excess alcohol usage as well.”

As colorectal cancer tends to affect people in older age groups, it is also recommended that people over 50 get a colonoscopy on a regular basis to lower their risk for colorectal cancer.  As always, be sure to consult with your doctor, as your needs might be different.

Our specialists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of colon and rectal cancer. Ready to schedule an appointment? Call us at



Dr. James FitzGerald, MD
MedStar Washington Hospital Center



For an appointment, call 202-877-3627.