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Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Wednesday, March 12, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Krista Chuscavage
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by Emily L. Butler, MPH, Cancer Screening Coach, Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program, Office of Healthy Communities, Washington State Department of Health

Statewide, only 64 percent of Washingtonians aged 50-75 are up to date with recommended colon cancer screening. Of cancers that affect both men and women, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Washington State, but it doesn't have to be.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, a great time to educate patients about colon cancer screening. Screening is highly effective, and with health insurance coverage increasing throughout the state, more patients than ever can receive colon screening at little to no cost.

A recommendation from a healthcare provider is the number one factor that influences a patient's decision to get screened for colon cancer. Even if healthcare providers already make a practice of recommending screening for every screening-eligible patient, evidence-based strategies can help improve their ability to identify and screen more patients.

Colon cancer screening saves lives, yet a third of Washington residents have never been screened or are not up to date with screening. Offer the fecal immunochemical test (FIT)1 among a choice of screening tests to help close this gap.

FIT offers an effective, easy to use alternative to colonoscopy. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening with either FIT, high-sensitivity quaiac-based fecal occult blood test (FOBT), colonoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy in healthy adults age 50 to 75. All screening options are similarly effective,2 but not all patients are willing to go through the preparation or take the time for an endoscopic test. FIT is an easy, non-invasive option.

A recent study3 indicates more patients complete screening when offered a choice of screening options:

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Colon Cancer Screening Resources

Learn more about FIT screening and other ways healthcare providers can increase the number of patients screened in their community from these online resources at the Washington State Department of Health:

If you have questions about these tools or if you would like to find out more about how to increase colon cancer screening in your clinic or community, contact the Department of Health's Cancer Screening Coach, Emily Butler at emily.butler@doh.wa.gov or 253-395-6729.


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