Mahaska Health Partnership Offering Free Screening for Colorectal Cancer
MAHASKA COUNTY – March is recognized as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and Mahaska Health Partnership is offering free colorectal cancer screening kits throughout the month.
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum. Most colorectal cancers grow slowly over several years and usually develop in the form of a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum.
“Starting at age 50, a colorectal cancer screening should be done at least once a year,” said MHP General Surgeon Paul Riggs, MD, FACS. “If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors, you should be screened more frequently, depending on your primary care providers’ recommendation. The free kits being offered by MHP in March are a great first step to protecting yourself.”
The free fecal occult screening kits being offered by MHP can be completed in the privacy of your own home and mailed back to the MHP Laboratory for testing. Screening kits can be requested online at mahaskahealth.org, over the phone by calling 641.672.3342 or picked up at one of the following locations: MHP Entrance #1, MHP Entrance #4, New Sharon Medical Center and MHP Hospice Services (Sigourney location). Kits must be returned to the MHP campus no later than April 15.
Dr. Riggs explained that the fecal occult screening kit tests for blood in the stool which can be an indicator that an individual has polyps. However, there are a number of reasons blood can be found in the stool and it does not mean that pre-cancer or cancer will be found.
“Requesting a free colorectal cancer screening kit is the first step in detection and prevention of colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Riggs. “If a polyp is detected early, it can be removed with a routine colonoscopy before it has the chance to become cancerous.”
Dr. Riggs went on to recommend scheduling a colonoscopy at age 50, or earlier for those with increased risk factors for getting colorectal cancer. Screening colonoscopies can then be repeated every 10 years unless otherwise specified by your healthcare provider. For more information about colonoscopies, contact your primary care provider or call MHP General Surgery at 641.672.2455.
Mahaska Health Partnership, located in Oskaloosa, is a non-profit health system accredited by the Joint Commission. It is guided by its mission to provide exceptional customer service and health improvement, linking the science of medicine with the humanity of compassionate care. For more information about how Mahaska Health Partnership is making healthcare personal, visit www.mahaskahealth.org.