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posted on March 20, 2012 09:58

The best way to prevent death from colon cancer is to get screened, and more Idahoans have gotten that message. In 2004, only 38% of Idahoans 50 or older had been screened for colon cancer. In 2010, that improved to 55%.

Cancer Control Program Manager Patti Moran is pleased with the increase and hopes to encourage even more Idahoans to take time to get screened.

“Early detection saves lives by finding cancers when they are still localized and when treatment is more likely to be successful,” says Moran. “Many deaths from colon cancer could be prevented with early detection of the disease. Unfortunately, far too few Idahoans are getting screened.”

It’s important for everyone who is 50 or over – whether you are a man or a woman – no matter what part of the state you live in to get screened for colon cancer. Being 50 or over puts you at increased risk for developing the disease. Since colorectal cancer often has no symptoms until the later stages of the disease, screening is that much more important. It’s the only sure way to catch the disease in its early, treatable stage.

From 2005-2009, nearly 3,000 Idahoans were diagnosed with colon cancer and more than 1,000 Idahoans died from the disease. Cancer Epidemiologist Christopher Johnson, from the Cancer Data Registry of Idaho, says that only 35% percent of colorectal cancers are detected at the localized stage when treatment is more likely to be successful. In addition, Johnson notes that late stage colorectal cancer diagnosis is more common in rural areas.

Colorectal cancer starts as a precancerous growth—called a polyp—in the large intestine or rectum. Screening tests can help find these growths, or detect cancer in its early, more treatable stages. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, making it a great time to talk with your healthcare provider to decide which test is right for you.

Free Colon Disease Screening Kits are available by calling the Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1, but supplies are limited.  The test kit allows you to test for some of the warning signs of colon cancer in the privacy of your home.  It also provides information on the steps you may need to take in preventing and treating this silent killer.

Get more information by contacting the Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1, 1-800-926-2588 or www.idahocareline.org. Or by calling Emily Simnitt at 208-334-0693.