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Colon Cancer Awareness Month

17 Mar, 2009 McKell Naelge

5March is colon cancer awareness month – and as such, the below article found here has alarming consequences for Utahns. This screening is simple and saves lives. My husband is here today because of this early screening that found polyps in his colon. I definitely recommend getting the scope!

Economy Has Utahns Avoiding Cancer Screenings. January 5, 2009
In these tight economic times, physicians are reporting their patients are delaying routine cancer screenings due to cost. This has officials at the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and Utah Cancer Action Network (UCAN) concerned, particularly about colon cancer screening.

“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and Utah,” said Bronwen Calver, UDOH comprehensive cancer coordinator. “It’s alarming that nearly 45 percent of Utahns age 50 and older have never been screened for it.”

An estimated 32,000 or more Utahns ages 50 to 64 do not have any health insurance. In 2007, 80% of this group reported they had either never had a sigmoidoscopy or colonscopy – or that it had been more than five years since their last screening.

Without insurance, a colonoscopy can cost from $1,000 to $2,000. There is currently no program to subsidize the cost of the procedure for low income individuals who are uninsured or underinsured. UCAN members are now exploring ways to provide free or low-cost colonoscopies to low-income citizens.

“Colon cancer found in its earliest stages has a 90% five-year survival rate,” said Dr. Joe Eyring, Chair of the UCAN Colon Cancer Committee and a colorectal surgeon. “Delaying screening only increases the chances a more advanced cancer will be found later.”

Routine colon cancer screening should begin at age 50 with a colonoscopy every 10 years. There are other screening options, including the once-a-year Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), which is provided for free by the UDOH and performed in the privacy of your home. There is also the less-expensive sigmoidoscopy, which is done every five years. But the most accurate test is the colonoscopy.

Most colonoscopies are covered by insurance, although a co-pay or deductible may be required. The UCAN Colon Cancer Committee is urging businesses to review their benefits packages to make sure they include colonoscopy for employees 50 and older. Early intervention reduces cost, days lost to illness, and keeps workers productive.

“Study after study shows that treating colon cancer in its earliest stages not only saves lives, but also saves money,” said Calver. “A stage I or II cancer may cost $30,000 to treat, but a late stage III or IV cancer can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars with a low five-year survival rate.”

Erin Day, a colon cancer survivor, asks people to “think of a colonoscopy as a long-term investment in your continued good health.”

For additional information or for a free FOBT kit, contact the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Health Resource line at 1-888-222-2542.

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IF you are looking for a facility that does a great job – may I recommend Utah Digestive Health. Their website is www.udhi.org

Take care of your health and your family!

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