Free colon cancer screening

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Most of us don't spend a lot of time talking- or even thinking about- our colons. That's one reason this entire month is set aside for colon cancer awareness.

Over 50-thousand people- about the population of a small town- will die from colon cancer this year.

Dietitian Maggie Retelle of St. Mary's of Michigan says, many of those deaths could be avoided, if the cancer is caught early, "If you can catch it early in a stage one, stage two phase, you're definitely, your chances for survival and easy treatment is definitely much better."

St Mary's is offering free colon cancer screening kits this month, in hopes of catching it earlier. All you have to do is take a small stool sample, put it in a vial, wrap it up, then put it into the provide mailing envelope, and send it in to a lab for testing.

"We'll get you results very quickly, and proactively, to get you lined up with any follow up that's needed," Rettelle says.

The American Cancer Society recommends you start screening by age 50, but Rettelle says you might want to start sooner, "We want to encourage that if you do know any of your risks or if you do have any risk factors that you might want to sign up and get that screening, because it is free."

Family history and genetics are key risk factors, but not everyone who develops colon cancer has a family history.

Just one more reason, Rettelle says, to pay attention to your body, and know the symptoms, "Any blood in or on your stool. Anything like that. If you have any pains, aches or GI symptoms that are recurrent or won't go away. And any time you have a drastic weight loss and you don't know where it's coming from, that may be a warning sign also."

One in 24 women , and a slightly higher number of men- one in 22, will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime.

Rettelle says there are things you can do to reduce your risk, "Increasing your activity, motility with your bowels, very important. Increasing your vegetables, fruits in your diet and decreasing processed red meats."

The American Cancer Society estimates over a million people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year.

To get a free kit, attend St Mary's Colon Cancer Screening Event. It starts at 6:00 PM, Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at St Mary's of Michigan Towne Centre, 4599 Towne Center Road in Saginaw Township.

You must RSVP. To do that, call St Mary's Seton Cancer Institute at 989.907.8115.


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