With March’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month fast approaching, March 1 - 31, health professionals throughout the state are challenging Nevadans to check their rears and get screened for colon cancer. The disease is the second leading cause of cancer death for men and women in Nevada and nationwide, but with proper screening the risk of dying from colon cancer can be reduced by up to 70 percent.
“When it comes to screening and early detection, Nevada is behind many other states with more than a third of eligible adults not getting screened,” said Dr. Clark Harrison, a gastroenterologist and president of the Nevada Colon Cancer Partnership. “We’ve launched #ChallengeNV to educate the public about the choices they have for screening, including a test that can be completed at home, and make it easier to stay up to date with colon cancer screening. As we like to remind patients, the best screening test is the one that gets done.”
Patients now have a choice when it comes to colon cancer screening: traditional colonoscopy every ten years or at-home FIT test annually. FIT, short for fecal immunochemical test, detects colon cancer through a small stool sample collected at home and mailed to a laboratory for analysis. Covered by most insurance or available for $15 - $20 (and in some cases free for the low-income uninsured), the test is gaining in popularity thanks to the ease with which it can be completed. Colonoscopy, which is also covered by most insurance plans, can detect and help to prevent cancer by using a scope to examine the entire colon and remove any pre-cancerous polyps. The test has also been improved in recent years thanks to easier to consume bowel preparations that require half the fluid consumption of older preps.
Colon cancer screening is recommended for average risk adults aged 50 to 75, or starting at 45 for African Americans. Those with a family history of colon cancer are advised to begin screening earlier and should talk with their physician about when to start.
The Nevada Colon Cancer Partnership, working with Nevada Cancer Coalition, kicked off #ChallengeNV earlier this year to encourage colon cancer screening and educate the public about their screening options. Information on each screening test option, along with access details for low-income and uninsured individuals, is available online at www.ChallengeNV.com.