Colon Cancer Screening

March is colon cancer awareness month, and we wanted to help raise awareness for a free or low cost colon cancer screening program offered by the CDC for low income and underinsured individuals in 25 states.

What is colon cancer screening?

Colon cancer screening is looking for colon cancer before you show any signs of symptoms. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it can be easier to treat whereas once you begin to show symptoms of colon cancer it may have begun to spread.

When should you start screening for colon cancer?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone over 50 get regular colon cancer testing to look for precancerous polyps in the colon. When found early polyps can be removed before becoming cancerous. Those who have a high risk of colon cancer should talk to their doctor about starting colon cancer screening earlier than 50. You have a higher risk of colon cancer if there is a history of colon cancer in your immediate family, you have inflammatory bowel disease, or you have genetic syndroms such as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).

What are the tests used to screen for colon cancer?

The following tests may be used to screen for colon cancer:

  • Physical exam and history
  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Digital rectal exam
  • Barium enema
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Biopsy
  • Virtual colonoscopy

Click the following link for more details about the above colon cancer testing procedures.

Find Free or Low Cost Colon Cancer Screening

The CDC provides funding to 25 states for a Colorectal Cancer Control Program aimed at providing colon cancer screening services to low income men and women aged 50 – 64 years who are uninsured or underinsured. If you live in one of the funded states, you may be eligible.

Click here to find out if your state is included in the colon cancer screening program.

The goal is to increase colon cancer screening rates in those states from 64% to 80% by 2014. According to the CDC, if everyone over the age of 50 had regular colon cancer screening tests and removed all precancerous polyps, as many as 60% of colon cancer deaths could be prevented.

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