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RPL highlights colon cancer awareness

The Russellville Public Library went blue March 14 in recognition of Colon Cancer Awareness Month and held a presentation in conjunction with the American Cancer Society in an effort to spread awareness about the cause.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. among men and women are combined, according to the ACS, but about 23 million people are not getting tested as recommended. When detected early, treatment is most likely to be successful, and in most cases, it can be prevented altogether.

Local colon cancer survivor Milford “Mousey” Brown knows the importance of getting tested early. He was the guest speaker at RPL Thursday.

“If I had gone on at the age I should have and gotten a colonoscopy, then I probably wouldn’t have been faced with removing 18 inches of my colon and 30 chemo treatments,” Brown said.

He was diagnosed in 1998 with colorectal cancer after having previously been misdiagnosed with diverticulitis and diverticulosis.

The recommended age to get a first screening used to be 50 years old, but ACS recently lowered the age to 45 based on research.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if five years down the road they lower the age again, simply because I hear all the time about people in their 20s and 30s being diagnosed,” said ACS community development manager Anna Duncan.

This increasing risk is why ACS is striving so hard to break the stigma that surrounds getting a colonoscopy. Five years ago ACS started the initiative 80 by 18, designed to get 80 percent of the population at the recommended age to have a colonoscopy done by 2018.

Duncan said the percentage of people getting colonoscopies increased after the initiative launched, and now the ACS is pushing a more localized initiative. The new goal is to have every community get 80 percent of the 45 and older population screened by 2020.