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November colon awareness time

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By The Staff

If you are 50 years old or older, it’s time to be checked for colon cancer.

"Screening and early detection can save lives,” said Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Commissioner William D. Hacker, M.D. “If you are 50 or older or have a history of colon cancer in your family, get checked. It’s the best way to ensure your future health and well-being, avoid more serious complications and reduce the cost of health care.”

Educational materials concerning the importance of early detection and prevention are available for distribution to employers, health care providers and faith-based organizations across Kentucky as part of a three-year campaign coordinated by Kentucky Cancer Program (KCP) and local district cancer councils.

The materials will be distributed locally through the state’s 15 district cancer councils and local health departments.

The materials, developed by the Colon Cancer Prevention Committee of the Kentucky Cancer Consortium, include a poster, bookmark and inserts for faith-based organizations. The key messages include:

*Kentuckians age 50 and older should get regular colon checks.

*Early colon cancer may have no symptoms.

*Nine out of 10 colon cancers may be prevented or cured with regular checks.

Colon cancer awareness efforts have already made a difference among Kentuckians. DPH reported that Kentuckians age 50 or older who have had a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy (colon cancer screening tests) increased from 34.2 percent in 1997 to 63.7 percent in 2008.

“About 2,500 Kentuckians are diagnosed with colon cancer each year, and approximately 900 Kentuckians die from colon cancer each year,” said Whitney Jones, M.D., gastroenterologist and founder of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, a Louisville-based nonprofit. “Despite the preventable nature of the disease, Kentucky has the highest colon cancer mortality rate in the U.S. compared to all other states. Talk to your health care provider to learn more about when you should be checked.”

For more information or to download educational material, visit the DPH Colon Cancer Screening Program Web site at or contact Susan Reffett, comprehensive cancer/colon cancer screening program manager, at (502) 564-7996, ext. 3158.