Kansas state health officer says early detection key in fight against colon cancer

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is promoting Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month by reminding residents to get preventive screenings.

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and it is expected to cause about 51,690 deaths this year.

In Kansas, 489 people died from colon cancer in 2010. There are about 1,440 new invasive colorectal cancer cases diagnosed annually.

“Colon cancer is preventable and curable. If colon cancer is caught in its earliest stages, it can be cured in almost 90 percent of the cases. To prevent this disease or to discover it in its earliest stages, Kansans need to participate in the screening process.”

— Dr. Robert Moser, KDHE Secretary and state health officer

For an average risk patient, a screening colonoscopy is recommended after the age of 50. This is an examination of the colon with a videoscope so the physician can see any abnormalities, such as a polyp or a cancer. At the time of the colonoscopy, polyps can be removed to prevent a cancer from developing.

If a person is in a high-risk category for colon cancer, then a colonoscopy may be performed sooner than age 50. Any person with a close relative — parent or sibling — who has had colon cancer should have a colonoscopy approximately 10 years prior to the age of diagnosis of that particular relative.

Several screening methods are available for colorectal cancer screening, including the Fecal Occult Blood Test, sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy.

Screening is covered by Medicare and most health insurance plans. People without insurance who need financial assistance with screening can locate a safety net clinic at the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved's website:  http://www.kamuonline.org/find.php.  

“Some studies suggest that people may reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer by increasing physical activity, eating fruits and vegetables, limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco,” Moser said.

Call the American Cancer Society toll-free number, 800-227-2345, for more information about colorectal cancer.  To find a Kansas Association of Gastroenterologists screening facility in Kansas, visit www.StopColonCancerNow.com/kansas. For other Kansas cancer information and resources, visit www.cancerkansas.org.

Tagged: Kansas Department of Health and Environment, American Cancer Society, colon cancer

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