Mahaska Health Partnership Encourages Screening for Colorectal Cancer
March is recognized as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and Mahaska Health Partnership is offering free colorectal cancer screening kits throughout the month to help detect polyps early.
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. Most colorectal cancers grow slowly over several years and usually develop in the form of a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum.
“If you are over the age of 50, a colorectal cancer screening should be done at least once a year,” said MHP General Surgeon Paul Riggs, MD, FACS. “Others who have a family history or other risk factors should also be screened on a more regular schedule.”
The free fecal occult screening kits being offered by MHP can be completed in the privacy of your own home and mailed back to the MHP Laboratory for testing. Screening kits can be requested online at mahaskahealth.org, over the phone by calling 641.672.3100 or can picked up at one of the following locations: MHP Main Lobby Registration (entrance #1), MHP Specialty Services (entrance #4), New Sharon Medical Center, Family Medical Center and MHP Hospice Services (Sigourney location).
Dr. Riggs explained that the fecal occult screening kit tests for blood in the stool which can be an indicator that an individual has polyps. However, there are a number of reasons blood can be found in the stool and it does not mean that pre-cancer or cancer will be found.
“Requesting a free colorectal cancer screening kit is the first step in detection and prevention of colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Riggs. “If a polyp is detected early, it can be removed with a routine colonoscopy before it has the chance to develop cancer.”
Dr. Riggs went on to recommend scheduling a colonoscopy at age 50, or earlier for those with increased risk factors for getting colorectal cancer. Colonoscopies should then be completed every 10 years unless otherwise specified by your healthcare provider. For more information about colonoscopies, contact your primary care provider or call MHP General Surgery at 641.672.2455.