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Local ACS reps urge colon cancer screenings

It’s the third leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the U.S.

It’s also extremely preventable.

Colon Cancer Month is observed in March, and local American Cancer Society representatives are pushing people to have greater awareness of the survivability from colon cancer if people seek the proper screenings and tests.

The American Cancer Society recommends people who are 50 or older talk with their doctors about colon cancer screening. Only about 60 percent of adults of screening age are up-to-date on their colon cancer screening, and many have never been screened at all.

With this in mind, the ACS has launched a new effort, the 80 by 18 initiative – a goal to increase colon cancer screening rates to 80 percent by 2018. According to the ACS, doing so could save more than 7,000 lives a year.

“It’s so preventable,” said Anna Duncan, local coordinator for Relay for Life. She said even though getting a colonoscopy has a reputation for being unpleasant, it is absolutely essential when it comes to colon cancer.

Kevin Sims, senior manager for Relay for Life, also promoted another screening method: the FIT test.

“It’s just basically a stool test. It’s not nearly as invasive as a colonoscopy. It’s a really good first indicator,” Sims said, adding that there is a big push for people to pursue the FIT test in rural areas that might not have easy access to a colonoscopy.

Screening can find colon cancer early, before symptoms develop, when it’s easier to treat and survival rates are more favorable. Some of the tests can help doctors find polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer.

Common symptoms of colon cancer include: a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days; feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so; rectal bleeding; blood in the stool; cramping or abdominal pain; and unintended weight loss.

For more information about colon cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit