Adults should ask doctors about screening for colorectal cancer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 14, 2017                                                   

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March offers a perfect opportunity to talk to your doctor about whether it is time to be screened for colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among U.S. men and third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, but can be prevented by early detection. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 4,660 new cases of colorectal cancer and 1,680 deaths due to the disease in Michigan this year.

“Adults age 50 and older should be regularly screened for colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “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. The importance of early detection cannot be overstated. Make it a priority to discuss the different testing options, including at-home tests, with your provider.”  

Black people suffer disproportionately from colorectal cancer. In 2013 in Michigan, 47 percent of new cases were among black residents, compared to 35 percent for white residents. In 2014, the death rate from colorectal cancer was 17.8 per 100,000 for black residents and 13.8 for white residents.

MDHHS also urges people to encourage their relatives and friends to be screened.

Through 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, anyone who has a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps should talk with their 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.

In addition to colonoscopies, there are several inexpensive screening options available, including simple, affordable 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. For resources for uninsured residents and for more information about testing and prevention, visit MDHHS’s cancer prevention and control website.

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