MDCH urges screening during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month; Several test options including simple take home tests

Contact: Jennifer Smith 517-241-2112

For Immediate Release: March 10, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – This year, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 4,190 new cases of colorectal cancer and 1,670 deaths from colorectal cancer in Michigan alone. While colorectal cancer remains the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths, the good news is that it can be prevented and found at an early stage. That’s why this March the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is raising awareness around the importance of screening during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

“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 and screening options,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive with the MDCH. “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 doctor.”

There are several screening options available including simple take-home tests and many health insurance plans cover lifesaving preventive tests. To find out the details of what is covered, check your plan. For the uninsured, preventing colorectal cancer or finding it early doesn’t have to be expensive. There are simple, affordable tests available for colorectal cancer screening.

Colorectal cancer screening options include stool-based tests and colonoscopy – all are effective at finding cancer in its early stages. 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.

According to a November 2014 MDCH report on colorectal cancer screening among Michigan adults, an estimated 71 percent of Michigan adults age 50 years and older reported appropriate colorectal cancer screening in 2013. The cancer section at the MDCH has joined other state and also national organizations by taking a pledge to improve colorectal cancer screening to 80 percent by 2018. The goal is to ensure that all people are aware of the screening options available and then take steps to be screened by talking with their doctor.

Colorectal cancer risk increases after age 50. However, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or pre-cancerous 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.

For resources for uninsured residents, and for more information about testing and prevention, visit www.michigan.gov/cancer.

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