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Early Screenings for Colon Cancer Can Make a Life-Saving Difference

Contact:  Lauren Jacobsen

Mattituck resident speaks from experience in urging East Enders to consult doctors about risk factors

RIVERHEAD, NY – Donna Farley was pregnant with her third child when her doctor suggested a colonoscopy.  She had been suffering with symptoms of abdominal pain and bleeding, but she was surprised by the recommendation.

4177b1b58cb2611e3362201c58a35ecf_f14939.jpg“I was just in my early 40s, and I thought colonoscopies were for people 50 and over,” said Farley. “But colon cancer doesn’t care how old you are.”

Farley's colonoscopy and subsequent scans revealed stage IV colon cancer, which is now in remission after an intensive course of surgery and chemotherapy. Farley hopes her experience can serve as a lesson to others.

“If you have any risk factors, or family history, or you’re just not feeling right, getting screened for colon cancer is something you shouldn’t put off until you’re 50 or older,” said Farley. “There’s no down side, and it can save your life.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., taking more than 50,000 lives each year.

“Almost every one of these deaths could be prevented with a simple screening,” said Dr. Brett Ruffo, Director of Colorectal Surgery at Peconic Bay Medical Center.  “When colon cancer is caught early, it is very treatable and beatable. The screening tests also prevent cancer, by finding precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they can turn into cancer.”

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Peconic Bay Medical Center is joining with healthcare providers throughout North America in urging everyone to consult their doctors about the need for screening.

“Talk to your doctor about your health and your family history,” said Dr. Ruffo. “Even if you have no risk factors, everyone should plan on getting a colonoscopy at least every ten years, starting at age 50.”

“Don’t wait for your doctor to suggest it,” said Farley. “Consider it your personal responsibility to yourself and the people who depend on you. It’s never too soon to get screened.”



About Peconic Bay Medical Center

Located in Riverhead, NY, Peconic Bay Medical Center is a non-profit hospital committed to providing exceptional care and improving the health of the communities it serves. Peconic Bay Medical Center offers wide-ranging, full-scope services and programs along with state-of-art technology. Peconic Bay Medical Center joined Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ), in 2016. For more information, visit

About The Cancer Services Program of Suffolk County

The Cancer Services Program of Suffolk County aims to decrease rates of cancer and cancer mortality for uninsured people of Long Island. Their mission is to provide breast, cervical and colorectal cancer education, screening and treatment services with compassion and respect for uninsured people of Suffolk County.

About Northwell Health

Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 21 hospitals and over 550 outpatient facilities. We care for more than two million people annually in the metro New York area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 61,000 employees – 15,000+ nurses and nearly 3,400 physicians, including nearly 2,700 dedicated members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. And we offer health insurance through CareConnect. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit