Yet despite those facts colon cancer can be successfully treated when diagnosed early. With symptoms often non-existent in the early stages of colon cancer, the best defense against colon cancer is regular screenings.
“Too often people ignore or put off colorectal cancer screenings,” said Carolyn Handville, coordinator of Oswego County Opportunities (OCO) Cancer Services of the North Country. “They are nervous and uncomfortable about the screening procedure but there is no need to be. We offer free FIT (fecal immunochemical test) kits to eligible individuals. An alternative to a colonoscopy, FIT kits are a noninvasive, private way to check for colon cancer in the privacy of your own home.”
One individual who can attest to the simplicity and ease of the FIT kit is Larry Boldt. He discovered OCO’s Cancer Services program in 2009 at the Lewis County Health Department and has been completing a FIT kit annually ever since.
“When I learned of the importance of regular screenings for colon cancer the FIT kit made sense,” said Boldt. “I had no concerns about doing the test. It was easy. The instructions are laid out, step by step, with pictograms explaining the steps visually. There was no need to visit a doctor’s office. I simply collected a sample and mailed it in.”
Once the results are in, the Cancer Services program shares those test results with the client. If the results are negative, with no evidence of blood in the stool, tests are recommended to be done every year. If there are abnormal results, the Cancer Services Program will arrange a consult with a doctor that specializes in gastroenterology free through the program.
“Each month we generate a list of clients that are due for screenings,” explained Handville. “A reminder is mailed to the client explaining the importance of regular screenings. When clients contact us, we verify their information and eligibility and the FIT kits, with easy instructions on how to complete the test, are mailed to them.
If colorectal cancer is detected early, it can be treated and often cured. Regardless of which screening tool you use, getting screened for colorectal cancer is an important part of your overall health. We urge everyone to start colorectal cancer screening at age 45. Those using FIT kits for their screening should do so every year.”
“I was fortunate to discover the Cancer Services program,” added Boldt. “I’m happy to share my experience. Cancer screenings are essential and the FIT kit is an easy, risk free, and effective tool for colon cancer screenings. I even received a free $5 gift card to Dunkin Donuts after completing the FIT kit as an added incentive!”
FIT kits distributed through OCO’s Cancer Services Program are simpler and less expensive than other at home colon cancer tests. For those with a family or personal history of precancerous or other digestive diseases the United States Prevention Service Task Force recommends screening by way of colonoscopy. Ultimately, the best test is the one that gets done!
OCO Cancer Services Program offers a number of cancer screenings including clinical breast exams, mammograms, colorectal cancer screenings, and pap/pelvic exams. These screenings play an important part in maintaining good health and are available free of charge to uninsured men and woman throughout Oswego, Jefferson, Lewis and St Lawrence Counties. For more information about the program, contact Carolyn Handville at 855-592-0830 or visit www.oco.org.