Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Maryland. This year, according to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 2,430 Marylanders will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 860 will die from it in.
Ninety percent of colon cancers occur in men and women age 50 and over and often have no symptoms in its early stages. Screening tests can find and remove pre-cancerous polyps and also detect cancer early, when it is at its most treatable stage.
Susan Twigg, R.N., Director of Cancer Prevention Services for the Harford County Health Department says, “Colorectal Cancer is a major public health problem. About one in three adults between the ages of 50 and 75 years old are not getting recommended screening. Data indicates that 50% of colon cancers could be prevented through regular screening. There are several screening options, including take home options (kits), available. Plus, many public and private insurance plans cover colorectal screening. For eligible Maryland residents without insurance or those who need help paying for copays, coinsurance and deductibles, the Harford County Health Department offers no cost colon cancer screening.”
Most colon cancers occur without a family history. Men and women age 50 or older should be screened, regardless of family history or symptoms. Those with a family history of colon cancer should let their doctor know, as they may have to begin screening at an earlier age. Talk to your doctor to see which test is right for you and when to start screening.
In addition to being screened, other steps to help prevent the risk of colorectal cancer are to be physically active, maintain a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and not smoking.
To find out more information about colorectal cancer screening program, call 410-612-1780 or visit the health department’s website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com .