In observance of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Lake Regional Health System is offering free colorectal cancer screening kits to lake-area residents through March 31.
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States and the third-leading cause of cancer death. If detected early, however, it is one of the most curable cancers.
Colorectal cancer, which is cancer of the colon or rectum, develops from polyps — small clumps of cells that form on the colon lining. Polyps can be detected and removed before they become cancerous. The free kits offered by Lake Regional — fecal occult blood tests — are used to detect hidden blood in the stool, which can be a sign of several conditions, including colorectal cancer.
Fecal occult blood tests require three different specimens, preferably collected on three different days. The free kits come with return envelopes for submitting specimens (postage is required). There is no cost for either the lab work or the results.
Individuals ages 50 and older are at particular risk of developing colorectal cancer. Other risk factors include physical inactivity, obesity, high consumption of red or processed meats, smoking, and moderate-to-heavy alcohol consumption. People are also at higher risk if they have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps, inflammatory bowel disease or inherited colorectal cancer.
Screenings are recommended for most people beginning at age 50. Common screening options include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and fecal occult blood tests.
To request your free test kit, visit www.lakeregional.com/screeningkit or call 573-348-8222. For more information on colorectal cancer and screening options, talk with your primary care provider or visit www.cancer.org.
Please note the fecal occult blood test checks for colorectal cancer but is never used to diagnose this condition. If your home test detects blood in your stool, call your primary care physician to schedule an appointment for further testing. If blood is not detected, you still are advised to follow routine screening guidelines. If you do not have a primary care provider, visit www.lakeregional.com/physicians or call Lake Regional Health System’s Physician Referral Line at 573-348-8385.
Know the Signs of Colorectal Cancer
Tell your doctor if you have any of the following signs of colorectal cancer.
- changes in bowel movements
- rectal cramping and/or bleeding
- dark patches of blood in the stool
- abdominal discomfort or bloating
- unexplained fatigue
- loss of appetite and/or weight loss
- pelvic pain