Rotarians learn importance of pre-cancer screening

Dr. Ross Knowles

BUCKHANNON — The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur met virtually Tuesday afternoon to discuss business and learn about the importance of pre-cancer screening from their guest speaker, Dr. Ross Knowles. 

Some of the club members have been active, helping with service projects such as helping distribute over 200 Thanksgiving Baskets at the Parish House on Saturday.  Approximately 800 individuals participated in the club’s fall blood screening, many of whom also received the flu vaccination. 

Guest speaker Dr. Ross Knowles explained the importance of colorectal cancer screening to the group.  The General Surgeon is originally from Logan, West Virginia.  His parents are Veterinarians in Logan; therefore, Dr. Knowles has experienced rural medicine firsthand.  He received his undergrad in aviation mechanics from Fairmont State University and shortly after, received a stronger calling for medicine.  Dr. Knowles attended West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, West Virginia.  He completed his residency at the University of Massachusetts, and recently moved to Buckhannon to continue his career as a General Surgeon with WVU Medicine at Building A, 10 Amelia Drive.  It was during his third year of medical school, during the surgical rotation, that Dr. Knowles said he fell in love with surgery.      

He explained that local Rotary member Dr. Sue Long has been a mentor to him for approximately six years now.  The two met when he was a fourth-year student, and he left a rotation in Alaska to join a medical mission with Dr. Long.

Dr. Knowles is also assisting in two outreach programs, located at the Community Care at Rock Cave and a nursing home in Thomas.  He is excited to be part of their pre-op and post-op visits, as well as just being present for whenever they need a second or different opinion.  He stated, “I have always had a particular interest in becoming a rural surgeon… To describe what Sue and I do, is a little bit of everything. Like in Buckhannon, we are the specialists that cover anything that the family medical doc runs to the end of their knowledge base with.  For me, that includes upper and lower endoscopy, any sort of stomach issues such as Crohn’s patients, all the cancer screening, skin and soft tissue, and all the bread and butter of general surgery, such as hernias and tumors, etc.” 

Dr. Knowles explained that cancer is the second leading cause of death.  As technology advances, guidelines and recommendations advance as well – in hopes of eliminating the disease.  Colorectal cancer is described as a “silent killer.”  Typically, the cancer has spread to other major organs before it is detected, which is why it is important to do routine screenings, according to Dr. Knowles.  The American Cancer Association now recommends that screening should begin at the age of 45 and continue for the rest of life.  Dr. Knowles’ current recommendation is to initially have a baseline screening, specifically a colonoscopy.  Since Dr. Knowles has moved to the area, he has reportedly already helped eliminate two cases of the disease.  Appointments with Dr. Knowles can be made by calling (304) 473-2303. 

Rotary member Rich Clemens also spoke to Rotary’s mission to help the eradication of polio for over 35 years.  Clemens himself was part of one of the largest clinical trials, in which he and others were considered polio pioneers.  He stated there are a lot of similarities between the polio virus then and the coronavirus now.  After the trial ended in 1955, the vaccine group reported significantly fewer cases and the polio vaccine was granted approval.  Rotary has helped the reduction of polio cases by 99.9 percent and contributed more than $2.1 billion plus countless volunteer hours towards the cause. 

The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur is currently accepting donations to further eradicate polio and the club will match them, dollar for dollar.  The disease is still reportedly prevalent in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Every dollar contributed will provide $6 to help free the world of this debilitating disease. 




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