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It’s Easy to Be Screened

PHOTO: March is national Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, and this year in South Dakota, about 430 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed.
PHOTO: March is national Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, and this year in South Dakota, about 430 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed.
March 1, 2013

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – March is national Colorectal Cancer Awareness month and this year in South Dakota about 430 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed, with more than 150 deaths expected.

Colon cancer is very treatable when caught early.

Dr. Paul Amundson, chief medical officer for Dakotacare, says the organization wants people to be mindful of the threat from colon cancer.

"What we are really trying to do is raise the awareness,” he says, “because it is an extremely common condition that is surprisingly very easy for us to prevent through regular colon cancer screenings."

Amundson says nearly 40 percent of age-eligible South Dakotans are not getting screened for colon cancer.

Amundson says Dakotacar wants to increase screening rates among men and women 50 and older to 80 percent. He knows firsthand that the screenings can find problems early.

"Get your colonoscopy like I did last fall,” he says. “Found a real small polyp that 5 or 10 years had a chance to become cancerous. You eliminate those, you really truly prevent a non-cancerous growth from becoming cancerous."

Amundson says many people avoid screenings because of cost and fear. He says it is easier than most people think.

"The colonoscopy is the gold standard,” he says. “We hope more and more people can afford it. We have broader insurance coverage for these kind of things. The process is very painless. People make a lot of jokes about it, but it's a very smooth process."

The American Cancer Society of South Dakota and the South Dakota Council on Colorectal Cancer also urge people to watch their diet, get some exercise and quit smoking.


Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD