March is colon (colorectal) cancer awareness month. In 2011, it is estimated that 142,500 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer and around 51,400 will die as a result of the disease. This does not need to be the case. Colon cancer is 90% curable when detected early, which means you have the power to do something about it.

There are several screening tests that can detect colon cancer early, when it can be more easily and successfully treated. McKenzie Medical Center (MMC) is offering free ColoCARE kits that will enable you to perform a screening test for colon cancer in the privacy of your own home. Once the test has been completed you can mail or return the Reply Card to MMC. You will be informed of the results and these results can also be forwarded on to your family doctor. You can request a kit by calling 731-352-8708 or pick one up at the reception windows of McKenzie Medical Center which is located at 205 Hospital Drive, McKenzie. The free ColoCARE kits are also available at MMC’s satellite clinic locations: Dresden Specialty Clinic located at 136 So. Wilson Street, Dresden and the Bruceton Clinic located at 123 Maple Street, Bruceton.

ColoCARE is a technology that provides a simple, clean and effective test for occult blood (hidden blood in the stool). Occult blood testing using ColoCARE is a good start in fighting against colon cancer. However, it is for screening purposes only and is not confirmatory for colon cancer. Additionally, it is not a substitute for a regular physical and rectal examination by your physician. You should speak with your primary care provider as they may recommend additional tests, especially if you have high risk factors.

Health history and age can increase your risk for developing colon cancer. In the United States, approximately 99% of all cases of colon and rectal cancers occur in people over the age of 40. According to the American Cancer Society colon cancer screening should begin at 50 years old for those people at average risk and at an earlier age for those at an increased risk.

Managing Partner of MMC, Dr. Winkler stated, “Every year providers at MMC screen hundreds of people for colon cancer. Every year many lives are saved as a result. Unfortunately, we also see people every year who wait until it is too late. We strongly encourage everyone over the age of 40 who has not had a recent colonoscopy, to at least get your free ColoCARE test kit.”

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