DOTHAN - Colon cancer is one of the top three cancer killers in the United States and can often be prevented by knowing your risk factors and getting screened.
A new program offered by the Alabama Department of Health gives everyone the opportunity to avoid a deadly diagnosis.
The Fecal Immunochemical Test or "FIT" test is easy, it can be done in the privacy of your home and results are returned within days.
Kathryn Chapman, a Director at the Alabama Department of Health says “FIT way is a 5 year program that the department of public health has to try to get 80 percent of everybody over the age of 50 screened for Colorectal Cancer.”
According to doctors, everyone is at risk for developing Colon Cancer so if you are over the age of 50 or have a strong family history of Colon Cancer, getting screened regularly could save your life.
Dr. Steven Stokes, a Radiation Oncologist at Southeast Alabama Medical Center states “about 2500 people get Colorectal Cancer each year, about one thousand Alabamians ultimately die of that disease and if you look at Houston County, about 50 percent of patients have advanced Colorectal Cancer by the time we diagnose it.”
There are currently 3 recommended ways to screen for Colon Cancer. A take home stool test like the FIT, a Colonoscopy or a Sigmoidoscopy.
The FIT test differs from tests offered to patients in the past. Unlike the standard FOBT test, it does not require patients to change their diet or avoid medicine and vitamins.
According to Chapman, “what the FIT does is tells the doctor that there is bleeding from polyps in the lower colon and that tells the doctor that the patient needs to go for a Colonoscopy and have those polyps removed.”
If you don't have health insurance, don't worry. Stokes explains “if someone doesn't have insurance or health care coverage, the state of Alabama will pay for the cost of the screening Colonoscopy for someone that has an abnormal test on the FIT way test.
Make your health a priority and get screened regularly for colon cancer. It could save your life. To find out more information on the FIT test or to see if you qualify, contact (334) 206-7066, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.adph.org/fitway.