PNS Daily Newscast - September 20, 2019 

A whistleblower complaint against President Trump sets off tug-of-war between Congress and the White House; and students around the world strike today to demand action on climate change.

2020Talks - September 20, 2019. (3 min.)  

Climate change is a big issue this election season, and global climate strikes kick off, while UAW labor strikes continue.

Daily Newscasts

Colon Cancer Screening Getting to Hard-to-Reach Patients

FIT tests look for signs of blood in a person's stool  a possible sign of colorectal cancer. (Cbalentine/Wikimedia Commons)
FIT tests look for signs of blood in a person's stool a possible sign of colorectal cancer. (Cbalentine/Wikimedia Commons)
March 26, 2019

SEATTLE — For Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, medical experts want folks to know there's an easy and non-invasive way to screen for the disease.

FIT tests can be mailed to a person's home and are taken once a year. Specialists then analyze a person's stool for blood, a possible sign of the cancer.

Leslie Phillips is research team leader at SEIU 775 Benefits Group, which represents Washington state home-care workers. She said the other option - a colonoscopy once every ten years - can be hard to schedule, especially for working people, since it requires two days of preparation. But research shows FIT kits increase the chances of getting a screening done.

"If you send a kit, you will get a certain proportion of kits back from people who would not have been screened otherwise or who would have been screened much later,” Phillips said. “And that really matters here. This is a cancer that, if caught early, has an excellent prognosis and a much less invasive medical intervention."

Doctors suggest everyone age 50 and older screen for colorectal cancer. It's the fourth-most common cancer and second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Merissa Clyde, who also is with SEIU 775 Benefits Group, said research on the effectiveness of FIT tests has been so promising that her group is sending out tests to home-care aides it represents. She said it's hard for workers to leave their clients, creating a barrier for scheduling a colonoscopy.

"Thinking about getting a screening for colonoscopy, it's an investment of time to go and to get the screening, to do all of the preparation work - and that takes them away from the care for their client,” Clyde said.

Dr. John Dunn, medical director for preventive care at Kaiser Permanente Washington, said FIT kits and colonoscopies are equally effective at screening for colon cancer. Dunn said the non-invasive nature of FIT tests is attractive to people, including himself, but what really matters is that people get screened somehow.

"As the United States Preventive Services Task Force put it in their recommendations, 'The most important screening test is the one that gets done,’” Dunn said.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA