March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In partnership with the Mia Ware Foundation and the Regional Cancer Partnership, Passavant Area Hospital is distributing free colorectal cancer home test kits later this month.
Colorectal home screening kits may be picked up in a “drive-through” fashion in the circle drive at the main entrance of Passavant on Thursday, March 26, from 4 to 6 p.m. and Friday, March 27, from 9 to 11 a.m. A short consent form can be filled out from the participant’s car. After collecting samples for the kit at home, participants mail the kit back to Passavant in the provided postage paid envelope. Results are processed in Passavant’s laboratory, and individuals will receive a letter with their test results within four weeks.
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum, and is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S. The CDC estimates that if every adult age 50 and over had regular screenings for colorectal cancer, up to 60 percent of deaths from the disease could be prevented.
A colonoscopy is considered the “gold-standard” test for colorectal cancer. The home test kits are not a replacement for a colonoscopy, and they are not a specific test for cancer, but they can detect the presence of blood, which can be indicative of many medical conditions, including colorectal cancer. The home screenings are a good test to do in the years between colonoscopies. The test is also recommended for people age 50 and older, people with a family history of colorectal cancer, those who have a history of colorectal polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, or who eat a diet high in processed foods or red meat. They are also recommended for individuals who smoke, are obese, or use alcohol heavily.
In addition to the kit distribution, Passavant is hosting a Community Health Talk, “Colorectal Cancer Update,” on Friday, March 27, at 12 noon. Springfield Clinic general surgeon Michael Fenner, MD, will present the program. A light lunch is included. To register for the program, please call 217-479-5800.