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Screenings Improve Chances Against Colorectal Cancer

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The FIT test is a unique colorectal screening tool because it can be done at home. (Kelly/Adobe Stock)
The FIT test is a unique colorectal screening tool because it can be done at home. (Kelly/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR - Producer, Contact
March 9, 2021

NEWPORT, Ore. -- March is awareness month for a very deadly disease, colorectal cancer, but the good news is there are screening tools to increase a person's chance of survival.

The most important tool is the colonoscopy, where doctors can identify potentially cancerous polyps.

Jaraka Carver, panel coordinator for Lincoln Community Health Center in Newport, said there is another important screening method called the FIT test, which is unique because people can do it at home.

"So in the times of COVID, that's really important because we've seen a decrease in providers seeing patients in office and actually putting a hold on screenings for colonoscopies during the first part of COVID last year," Carver explained.

The FIT test looks for microscopic blood in the stool and has to be done annually.

Carver said Lincoln Community Health Center started sending out FIT tests for patients who didn't come in for screenings last year. Their screening rate increased from 45% last year to 62% this year.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death for men and women combined.

Carver pointed out screening makes a difference.

"Colorectal cancer is one of the cancers that are unique in the fact that you can actually prevent the cancer by screening," Carver reported. "So it's estimated that about 50% of the colorectal cancer-related deaths could have been prevented by screening."

Carver added people can also lower their risk of colorectal cancer by exercising often and not consuming too much alcohol or red meats.

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