For a third March in a row, Ascension Via Christi’s Cancer Outreach and Risk Assessment program is providing colorectal screening kits at no cost to anyone 45 and older at Dillons’ Kansas store pharmacies.
“The colorectal screening kits are easy to use and could save your life,” says Oncology nurse navigator Lisa Schmidt, RN, who knows all too well the importance of colorectal screening, both as a oncology-certified nurse and as a patient. Schmidt had her first colonoscopy seven years ago, during which two pre-cancerous polyps were found and removed before they could become cancerous.
“That 30-minute procedure just may have saved my life,” says Schmidt, whose follow-up colonoscopy four years later found no polyps nor evidence of cancer.
So how do the free colorectal screening kits, being given out while supplies last throughout the month of March, work?
Simply pick up your kit and follow the instructions provided for collecting a stool sample. Then return it in the self-addressed envelope provided with the kit.
If your sample tests negative, you will be sent a letter informing you of your results within a few weeks. If your specimen tests positive for traces of blood, an Ascension Via Christi nurse navigator will call you to discuss your results and next steps.
Colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons against colorectal cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer death for men and women combined.
Regular screening often can prevent colorectal cancer by finding and removing polyps before they have the chance to turn into cancer — a process that can take as many as 10 to 15 years. It also helps to detect colorectal cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage.
According to the American Cancer Society, which recommends that anyone 45 or older get tested, the five-year relative survival rate is about 90 percent when colorectal cancer is found before it has spread. But only about four out of 10 colorectal cancers are found at this early stage. When cancer has spread outside the colon or rectum, survival rates are lower.
Symptoms can include rectal bleeding or blood in stool, changes in bowel habits and changes in bowel appearance; anyone experiencing any of these should see his or her doctor.