“Testing saves lives,” says Michael Nwogbo.
Nwogbo is oncology outreach coordinator at the John B. Amos Cancer Center in Columbus.
In March, Columbus Regional Health is teaming with the West Central Georgia Cancer Coalition to give out free colorectal cancer screening kits. Other sponsors include Columbus State University and Live Healthy Columbus.
Anyone between the ages of 50-64 with no personal or family history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease may get one by calling 706-321-6603 or 706-660-0317 ext 204.
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Also, the Columbus Regional Health Mobile Unit will be in several locations with kits available.
On Wednesday, the unit will be at the Elizabeth Canty Homes on Canty Place, Thursday the Wilson Homes on Eighth Avenue, March 23 the Ralston Tower on 12th Street and March 28 the Nicholson Terrace Housing on 14th Avenue.
“Anybody can stop by at one of those locations and get one,” said Tenetta Holt, the regional education coordinator for the West Central Georgia Cancer Coalition.
She said those locations were chosen because the campaign wants to make sure it reaches the uninsured and underinsured who do not always get the health care needed.
“Few go for a colonoscopy which is recommended when a person reaches age 50,” she said.
In fact, one in three adults, 50 and older, is not being screened for colorectal cancer.
If something negative is found with this test, one might be needed.
“The test is looking for microscopic blood samples in the stool which are a sign of trouble. It does not mean you have cancer,” Holt said.
The high-sensitivity fecal immunochemical test comes in a small, white envelope. People do the test at home and send the kit to the lab.
“It is really a simple procedure and doesn’t take long at all,” Nwogbo said.
He said that the campaign hopes to give out at least 300 kits.
Last year, kits were given out locally but only about 50 percent were returned.
“We have to increase that number,” Nwogbo said.
“We are going to make reminder phone calls,” Holt said.
Colorectal cancer is a term referring to cancer that develops in the colon or rectum which are parts of the digestive system . The colon and rectum absorb fluid to form solid waste that then leaves the body.
The National Cancer Institute says colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. There are 134,000 new cases and more than 51,000 deaths each year.
Excluding skin cancers, it is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided with screening and that in the United States total treatment costs are greater than $14 billion each year.
Nwogbo said there was an annual average age-adjust incidence rate of colorectal cancer of 51.8 cases per 100,000 in Muscogee County which is worse than the state or national incidence rate.
“We would like to give out 300 kits,” Nwogbo said.