National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March offers a perfect opportunity to talk to your doctor and ask yourself, as well as family and friends, if it is time for colorectal cancer screening.
While colorectal cancer remains the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women, the good news is that it can be prevented and found at an early stage. In Michigan this year, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 4,570 cases of colorectal cancer and 1,640 deaths due to the disease.
“Adults age 50 and older should be regularly screened for colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, many people aren’t getting tested because they don’t believe they are at risk or they aren’t aware of the different testing or screening options,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “The importance of early detection cannot be overstated. This Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, make it a priority to discuss the different testing options with your provider.”
Through proper colorectal cancer screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called “polyps”) in the colon before they become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether.
Colorectal cancer risk increases after age 50. However, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer polyps, talk with your doctor about starting testing before age 50. Many cases of colorectal cancer have no symptoms especially early on when it can be more effectively treated.
There are several screening options available including colonoscopy and simple take-home tests. Many health insurance plans including the Healthy Michigan Plan cover lifesaving preventive tests. Check with your health plan to find out the details of what colorectal cancer screening is covered. Preventing colorectal cancer or finding it early doesn’t have to be expensive; there are simple, affordable tests available for colorectal cancer screening.
For resources for uninsured residents, and for more information about testing and prevention, visit http://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71550_2955_2975—,00.html.