Health and Family Services Cabinet
Be Aware of the Dangers of Colorectal Cancer
During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, DPH Officials Push Awareness, Screenings
Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) officials are urging Kentuckians to be aware of the seriousness of colorectal cancer, and are encouraging Kentuckians to talk to their health care providers about screening for the disease.
In Kentucky, the mortality rate of colorectal cancer is 62.1 per 100,000 people, significantly higher than the national rate of 52.9 per 100,000. Screenings and early detection are crucial in treating this disease and lowering the mortality rate.
Both men and women are at risk to develop colorectal cancer. The cancer is most often found in people 50 and older and risk increases with age.
“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be,” said DPH Commissioner William D. Hacker, M.D. “If everybody age 50 or older had regular screening tests, at least one-third of deaths from this cancer could be avoided. If you are 50 or older, start screening now.”
Colorectal cancer can start with no symptoms, thus making screening the best defense in the fight against the disease. However, people who have polyps or colorectal cancer can and often do have symptoms. They may include bloody stools; frequent pain, aches or cramps in the stomach; changes in bowel habits, such as having stools that are narrower than usual; and unexplained weight loss.
If these symptoms occur, talk to a health care provider. These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but a medical consultation is necessary.
Individual risk for colorectal cancer may be higher than average if you or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, or if you have inflammatory bowel disease, according to DPH. People at higher risk for colorectal cancer may need earlier or more frequent tests than other people. Talk to your doctor about when you should begin screening and how often you should be tested.
Many insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screening tests. Check your health plan to find out which tests are covered.