March is colorectal cancer awareness month

March 7, 2014

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in Michigan and in the United States for both men and women. Locally, the District Health Department #10 service area has colorectal cancer death rates above that of the state of Michigan.

Colorectal cancer survival is most impacted by early detection of precancerous polyps.  About 90 percent of people live 5 or more years when their colorectal cancer is found at an early stage through testing, compared to only 12.5 percent of people whose cancer is found at a later stage. Screening tests can help identify the development of colorectal cancer at its earliest stages and thus stop cancer in its tracks.

DHD#10 has grant funding from the Michigan Department of Community Health for an early detection colorectal cancer screening program. This program provides a free screening opportunity for men and women 50- to 64-years of age to receive services that they may otherwise not have access to due to lack of insurance coverage and/or cost. Participants will receive a risk assessment as well as a home testing kit.  Those identified at high risk or with a positive test result will be eligible for free colonoscopy services through a partnership with our local hospitals and surgeons.

Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?  The chances increase significantly after age 50 for both men and women with 90% of colorectal cancers in that age group.  Other risk factors include a personal history of colon cancer, colon polyps, inflammatory bowel disease and a family history of colorectal cancer. A diet high in red or processed meat, inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, diabetes and heavy use of alcohol may also increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Testing saves lives, but only if people get tested. The Colorectal Cancer Screening project through the health department is only available for a limited time, and for a limited number of participants.  The project ends on April 30.

Call your local health department office to find out if you qualify, www.dhd10.org/contact-us:

Lake County:    231-745-4663

Manistee County: 231-723-3595

Oceana County: 231-873-2193

Mason County: 231-845-7381

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