Screening and early detection can prevent colon cancer
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Monday, March 2, 2009
Wear blue on March 6th to raise awareness
KING COUNTY, WA - King County residents are encouraged to wear blue on March 6th to raise awareness about colon cancer screening. Colon cancer is sometimes called the "silent killer," since it often has no symptoms. Screening and early detection can prevent over half of all colon cancer deaths.
In King County and nationally, African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos are less likely to be screened and more likely to die from colon cancer than whites. Screening rates are also lower among those without health insurance, with low income, and with less than a high school education.
"It is unacceptable that we have higher colon cancer and death rates among people who are uninsured and underinsured and among people of color. We must expand screening for all adults 50 and over," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health Seattle & King County.
Health insurance and Medicare often cover screening tests, and the Washington Colon Health Program provides free screening to low-income uninsured or underinsured residents of King, Clallam, and Jefferson Counties. If you don't have insurance, call the Community Health Access Program (CHAP) at 1-800-756-5437 for more information.
More than 2,000 people have received screening through the Washington Colon Health Program, which began screening tests in July 2006. This program is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and administered by Public Health Seattle & King County.
March activities to raise awareness
- March 6 - Dress in Blue Day
Everyone is encouraged to wear blue on March 6th as a reminder of the importance of colon cancer screening. Colon Cancer STARS, a non-profit dedicated to eradicating colon cancer, is sponsoring Dress in Blue Day. For more information: www.colonstars.org
- March 22 - Mercer Island Half Marathon
Run or walk a 5K, run a 10K, or run or walk a half marathon in the Mercer Island Rotary-sponsored: "Help Raise Awareness - Prevention Beats a Cure!" For more information: www.mercerislandhalf.com
Colon cancer starts with a growth (polyp) that is not cancer. Screening can find and remove growths before they develop into cancer. Usually there are no early warning signs for this type of cancer, which is another reason screening is so important.
The greatest risk factor for colon cancer is age, and the screening recommendation is that men and women 50 years and over talk with their doctor and get a screening test. If you have a family history of colon cancer or pre-cancerous polyps, you may need to start screening at an earlier age.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in King County.
In the United States in 2008, there were 108,070 new cases of colon cancer and 40,740 cases of rectal cancer. 49,960 deaths were attributed to colon and rectal cancers in 2008.
In addition to getting screened for colorectal cancer and going to the doctor if you think you have symptoms, here are some other colon cancer prevention tips:
- eat a healthy diet; include many fruits, vegetables, fiber, and calcium
- exercise regularly
- know your family history of colorectal cancer
- know your own medical history
- don't smoke
- limit red meat, processed meat and alcohol
- maintain a healthy weight
Public Health encourages all King County residents over 50 years old to talk to your health care provider and get a screening test for colon cancer.
For more information about colon cancer, screening, and educational materials: www.kingcounty.gov/health/colon.
Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.