Cancer screenings, like mammograms, are becoming more commonplace. But health authorities are still trying to get the message out about the need for colon cancer screenings. Doctors recommend that everyone have a colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50.
“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of all cancer deaths in Iowa,” says Jeanna Jones, social marketing and education coordinator for the Iowa Get Screened program within the Iowa Department of Public Health Department.
“Everyone should get screened,” she says. “This form of cancer doesn’t necessarily have any symptoms and, too often, people think that because they aren’t having any symptoms or don’t have a family history, they don’t need to get screened.”
Because precancerous polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy, the screening is even more important in that it can stop cancer before it even starts, combating this deadly, but highly preventable cancer.
According to Jones, 64 percent of Iowa’s population is actually getting screened for colorectal cancer. “Our goal is to increase screening rates to 85 percent by 2014,” she says. Jones adds that African Americans tend to be at a higher risk for colon cancer than the rest of the population, making it even more important that they begin a regular schedule of colonoscopies.
Concerns about paying for the procedure shouldn’t hold people back from being screened, because health insurance often pays for the procedure. A number of free screening programs are also available.
In the Cedar Rapids area, call the Linn County Health Department, (319) 892-6081, or His Hands Free Medical Clinic, (319) 862-2636 for more information about free colon cancer screenings.
You also can contact the Iowa Department of Public Health by calling (515) 242-6516 or going online to www.idph.state.ia.us/IGS/
By R’becca Groff for The Gazette