March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the third most common cancer after skin cancer in both men and women (lung cancer is the first) and is expected to kill over 50,000 Americans this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Anyone age 50 or older or with a family history of colorectal cancer should be screened.
During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, McLaren Northern Michigan is offering FREE one-step, home screening kits. This is the third consecutive year that McLaren Northern Michigan has distributed screening kits.
FREE kits can be obtained from March 2–31 by ordering or pick-up:
- Order directly by calling (800) 248-6777
- PETOSKEY pick-up Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Karmanos
- GAYLORD pick-up Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at Karmanos
- Cancer Institute of McLaren Northern Michigan, 560 W. Mitchell Street
- Cancer Institute in the McLaren Northern Michigan Specialty Clinic, 918 N. Center Avenue
The one-step, sample test kit screening is sensitive at detecting human hemoglobin (human blood) in stool. This specific test kit – the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) – has been shown to improve screening compliance and decrease false negative reports, leading to better screening results, and more returned kits. This kit does not require any preparation or changes to diet or medications and only requires one sample, making it much easier and quicker to complete.
“Our residents are fortunate to have this service,” says Radiation Oncologist Thomas Boike, MD, Cancer Committee Chair at Karmanos Cancer Institute of McLaren Northern Michigan. “Colorectal screening is a significant step toward overall health and wellness.” Karmonos Cancer Institute at McLaren Northern Michigan hopes the free screening opportunity will encourage individuals to take advantage of the life-saving benefits of testing early and routinely for colorectal cancer.
Early detection saves lives by finding cancer at a stage when treatment is more effective and the chance for a full recovery is very high. In many cases, screening can prevent colorectal cancer altogether by identifying precancerous polyps that can then be surgically removed.
Age is the greatest risk factor for colorectal cancer with more than 90 percent of cases diagnosed in people age 50 and older. Additional risk factors include a family history of the disease and lifestyle-related factors such as obesity, smoking, and a diet high in red meat.
“Even though the death rate for colorectal cancer is still high in this country, it has actually decreased over the last 20 years because of increased awareness about testing,” Dr. Boike adds. “You won’t know unless you get tested.”
For more information about colorectal cancer screenings, call (800) 248-6777. For more information about cancer and other health-related topics, visit northernhealth.org.