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Colorectal Cancer: “The Preventable Disease” - Part Two

March 5, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD – Colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, but the bad news is that screening rates for it are low in South Dakota. Now however more residents will have access to screening, thanks to a new initiative sponsored by the South Dakota Comprehensive Cancer Control Program.

Director Norma Schmidt says the coalition represents hundreds of citizens and 75 partner organizations, including the South Dakota Department of Health. Schmidt admits that some individuals are reluctant to get tested, and that's why her group is providing 1,000 free screenings to uninsured and under-insured patients in South Dakota.

"Colon cancer screening is not a very attractive kind of cancer screening, if any is. And I think there is a natural kind of concern that individuals have. But, more and more, colon cancer screening is extremely important and great strides are being made in making it something that is less invasive."

Denise Burggraff with the American Cancer Society in South Dakota says that early detection is crucial because it's difficult to treat the disease in the later stages.

"It takes about 10 years for a precancerous polyp to develop into cancer. Those precancerous polyps can have some bleeding and so we have tests that detect bleeding in the stools. The colonoscopy is really cool because the practitioner doing that can actually take out that polyp while they are doing the colonoscopy and therefore take out your possibility of that polyp actually turning into cancer."

Schmidt is hopeful they can offer the free screenings to other areas of the state as more resources become available. She says more than 470 South Dakota residents will be diagnosed with colon cancer, and 160 are expected to die from the disease, in 2008.

More about colon cancer is available online at Learn more about the SD Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at

David Law/Eric Mack, Public News Service - SD