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Phoenix VA Spreads Awareness about Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer Awareness
Phoenix VA Dieticians Ayesha Khalil and April Robles encourage Veterans to increase daily fiber intake to help reduce colon cancer by providing plant-based recipes during the Colorectal Cancer Awareness event at the Carl T. Hayden VAMC, March 5.

The Phoenix VA Health Care System Health Promotion and Disease Prevention program kicked off their Colorectal Cancer Awareness campaign with an event at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center on March 5.

According to, United States Preventive Services Task Force, “adults, age 45 to 75 should be screened for colorectal cancer; some, may even need to be screened earlier.” This month, the Phoenix VA is hosting five events in March during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to highlight colorectal cancer screening awareness. 

“We are here to promote colorectal cancer awareness,” said Jayson Lutes, health promotion and disease prevention coordinator at the Phoenix VA. Early screening and catching colon cancer early improves survival. More than half of the people that get screened where something is found, can be cured. It’s such a preventable disease and it’s so easy to get checked.”

While Veterans are captivated by the enormous inflatable colon, either Lutes or Phoenix VA’s PACT Coordinator Jolyn Moeller strike up a conversation with the Veteran to inquire about whether they’ve had a recent colorectal cancer screen. “We can look up in the Veteran’s chart at their request to see if and when they've had a colorectal cancer screening or when they're due for a screening, and if they are due for a screening with a fit kit, we can give them a fit kit right here to take home,” said Lutes. 

Since Lutes started at the Phoenix VA, he has noticed the Colorectal Cancer Awareness campaign has made a huge impact to increasing the amount Colorectal Cancer screenings. “More than 25 Veterans have stopped by today alone before the event concluded. I'm pleasantly surprised at how many Veterans stop by to ask about how do they get screened and, many Veterans share their stories of how getting screened saved their life. It's a very positive event, and there's a lot of interest in this health screen.”

Not only are Veterans learning about how and when to get screened during the Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month as well as the benefits of being screened early, the Phoenix VA has invited two Clinical Dieticians from the Phoenix VA to share how important fiber is to reducing colon cancer.  "We are promoting some simple recipes to try and how important fiber is to the average American. We are also promoting methods that may reduce colon cancer or any other known gastrointestinal issues with healthy recipes,” said Ayesha Khalil, dietician, Phoenix VA. 

“We’ve also got some free stuff to give away, we have various high fiber recipes to promote nutrition, lanyards, and water bottles; We have a plant-based cookbook available to Veterans with a wide variety of recipes from breakfast all the way to dessert and a few handouts that tell you how much fiber you should be eating in a day, and it’s detailed for men versus women,” said April Robles, Clinical Dietitian for the Phoenix VA. 

The next colorectal cancer awareness events are scheduled as follows: 

March 6 - Southwest VA Clinic, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  
9250 West Thomas Road, Suite 400
Phoenix, AZ 85037-3382

March 7 - Northwest VA Clinic, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. 
13985 West Grand Avenue, Suite 101
Surprise, AZ 85374-3626

March 12 - Staff Sergeant Alexander W. Conrad VA Health Care Clinic, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. 
3285 South Val Vista Drive
Gilbert, AZ 85297-7000

March 14 - Phoenix 32nd Street VA Clinic, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  
400 North 32nd Street
Phoenix, AZ 85008-6205

For Veterans unable to attend a Colorectal Cancer campaign event, all you have to do is contact your PACT Team and they will be able to let you know when you are due for your next Colorectal Cancer screen. 

To learn more about colorectal cancer, visit Veterans Health Library