March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. All men and women are at risk for colorectal cancer but it occurs most often in adults over the age of 50. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and fourth in women. The best prevention for colorectal cancer is to undergo colorectal cancer screening tests, which leads to early detection of precancerous lesions and their removal.
Early detection saves lives. Colorectal cancer usually starts from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum, which can develop into cancer over time. Sometimes polyps will bleed and a person may notice blood in their stool. Other symptoms of colorectal cancer may include abdominal pain or bloating that doesn’t go away or unexplained weight loss. But, it is important to remember that colorectal cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms at first. This is why having screening tests for colorectal cancer on a regular basis is important.
Adults between the ages of 50 and 75 should be tested. Some screening tests can be used to find polyps while others look for specific signs of colorectal cancer. The FIT (fecal immunochemical test) Kit is an at-home stool testing kit which looks for blood in a person’s stool. A colonoscopy is a test which allows your doctor to view the inside of the entire colon to find and remove polyps in the colon or rectum. Talk to your doctor to determine which test is right for you and how often you should be screened.
Free colorectal cancer screening tests are available. The Onondaga County Cancer Services Program (CSP) offers free tests for men and women between 50 and 64 years old who do not have health insurance. Services are available at many healthcare provider sites throughout the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County. Call 315-435-3653 or visit the CSP website at ongov.net/health/cancerscreening.html to register for your free screening test.
Remember, if you are between 50 and 64 years old and do NOT have health insurance, call 315-435-3653 to see if you qualify for free colorectal cancer screening. Early detection of colorectal cancer saves lives. Take care of yourself and schedule your appointment today!