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March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

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COLUMN: DIANA LEATHERS, COMMUNITY HEALTH EDUCATOR

Few cancers are as easily prevented as colon cancer. Yet in Kentucky, about 2,600 new cases will be diagnosed each year and about 900 people will die.  March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Call your doctor and ask about a screening test that's right for you. Routine screening is highly effective. Nine out of 10 colon cancers may be prevented or cured if detected early.  

The burden of colorectal cancer in our state is significant. Kentuckians are diagnosed at a higher rate than the rest of the nation and the mortality rate is among the highest. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the nation and the state.

Early colon cancer usually has no symptoms, so it's important to be screened.  Age is the most common risk factor. It is recommended that everyone age 50 and older be screened. If you have a personal or family history of cancer, or certain risk factors such as polyps (growths) or inflammatory bowel disease, you should check with your doctor about getting screened at an earlier age. 

There are several different tests for colon cancer. Some can be done at home to check for hidden blood in the stool. Other tests must be done in a healthcare facility by a physician and may use X-rays or a thin flexible tube to examine part or all of the colon. Most insurance plans, Medicaid and Medicare help cover the cost. 

Don't let fear, embarrassment or any other reason keep you from taking the next step. 

If you would like more information, contact the LaRue County Health Department at 358-3844.