For Immediate Release
March 1, 2012

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

KDHE is Working to Promote Awareness, Screening for Colon Cancer

TOPEKA, Kan. - Preventable, Treatable, Beatable is the theme for March 2012 Kansas Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and its partners are working to promote colon cancer awareness across Kansas. The National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month focuses on the importance of learning your family history of colon cancer, sharing this information with your doctor and loved ones and encouraging younger generations to start conversations about health and screening.

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and is expected to cause about 51,690 deaths (26,470 men and 25,220 women) during 2012. The good news is that this number has decreased. In 2005, approximately 56,000 people in the U.S. died from colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among Kansans with 498 deaths in 2010 and nearly 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,” said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “To prevent this disease or to discover it in its earliest stages, Kansans need to participate in the screening process.”

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 first degree relative who has had colon cancer (i.e. parent, sibling) 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 (FOBT), 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 following website:  http://www.kamuonline.org/information-for-consumers/find-a-clinic/.  

“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,” said Moser.

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