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Colorectal Cancer - Have You Been Screened?

In Connecticut, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed among men and women and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Health officials estimate that 60 percent of these deaths could be prevented with regular screening, yet 30 percent of state residents over 50 have never been screened. What better time to take action than March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month?

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the term used to describe a combination of colon cancer--cancer of the large intestine--and rectal cancer, which is a cancer of the last few inches of the colon. Most cases begin with small groups of cells called polyps that grow over time and become cancerous. Often, these polyps produce few or no symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screenings in everyone over 50 (approximately 90 percent of those diagnosed are 50 or older) to identify the polyps before they become cancer.

What happens during a screening?

During a screening, the doctor conducts an exam called a colonoscopy to find changes in the colon or rectum. A long, flexible tube containing a tiny video camera is inserted into the rectum so that the doctor can see the colon. If the doctor detects polyps or irregular tissue, he or she can remove them with the instrument. These samples may be tested later for cancer. During the screening, you may feel slight cramping and discomfort.

How do I get screened?

Community Health Center's Colorectal Cancer Early Detection Program provides free screenings and education to eligible men and women who are uninsured or underinsured and have low incomes. To find out if you're eligible, contact CRC Patient Navigator and LPN Nicole Jarjura at 860-347-6971, ext. 3657 to schedule an appointment, or attend the Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center's Men's Health and Wellness Day, where members of the Early Detection Program will provide eligibility screenings on site.

To learn more about colorectal cancer, visit the Stay in the Game CT website. You'll find information on screenings, can ask a doctor questions and send an e-card reminding a loved one to get screened.