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M. D. Anderson to Offer 2nd Annual Colorectal Cancer Screening Test Giveaway March 15

M. D. Anderson to Offer 2nd Annual Colorectal Cancer Screening Test Giveaway March 15
M. D. Anderson News Release 03/13/01

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and again this year The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center will offer colorectal cancer screening tests free of charge.

The free screening tests—fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs)—will be available Thursday, Mar. 15, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Individuals may pick up FOBTs at M. D. Anderson's Cancer Prevention Center, LeMaistre Clinic 4th floor, 1515 Holcombe Blvd.

"The real tragedy of nearly 60,000 deaths a year caused by colorectal cancer is that so many can be prevented," says Dr. Bernard Levin, M. D. Anderson's vice president for cancer prevention and a colorectal cancer specialist.

 “We strongly urge individuals to look beyond any possible embarrassment in discussing colorectal cancer and encourage their family members and friends to get screened," he says.  "In fact, this is a test done in the privacy of one's own home."

Colorectal cancer usually begins with development of precancerous polyps—or growths—in the colon or rectum, Dr. Levin says. Left untreated, some of these polyps may become cancerous tumors that can invade the colorectal wall and spread to other parts of the body.

"FOBTs allow us to detect a problem very early on," Dr. Levin says.

Anyone age 50 or older is eligible for the free FOBTs.  Each person age 50 or older will receive one test-but a few exceptions apply.

Individuals are not eligible if any of the following apply:  if they have a first-degree relative (mother, father, sister, brother, child) who had colorectal cancer or polyps before age 60; more than one
first-degree relative with colorectal cancer or polyps at any age; personal history of polyps, colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease; recent rectal bleeding; or persistent change in bowel habits. Instead, these individuals are encouraged to see their own doctor for more thorough screening.

FOBTs test for hidden blood in the stool—an early indicator of the disease and one of the screening tests recommended by the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. A positive FOBT usually requires a diagnostic colonoscopy to determine the cause of bleeding.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy, which are also important screening techniques, are available for a cost. Individuals may check with their health care providers to determine coverage for these services.

FOBTs are completed at home and include stool blood cards to be used for three consecutive bowel movements. Appropriate packaging and storage instructions are included.  Individuals may mail completed FOBTs through regular mail to the Cancer Prevention Center in the envelope provided.  Cancer Prevention Center staff then inform individuals of test results and provide recommendations based on the results.

Colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 50, or earlier for individuals with a family history of the disease, Dr. Levin says.  In addition to the annual FOBT, recommendations for colorectal cancer screening include the following:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years.
  • Double contrast barium enema every five years or colonoscopy every 10 years may be substituted in place of the other tests.

Colorectal cancer is the nation’s second leading cancer killer, with an estimated 57,100 deaths and an estimated 138,900 new diagnoses in the United States in 2001, according to the American Cancer Society. In Texas, an estimated 3,600 deaths are expected in 2001.

 "With early detection, colorectal cancer is highly curable," Dr. Levin says.

For a fee, individuals may self-park in Garages 2 or 10 or valet park at R. Lee Clark Clinic,
1515 Holcombe Blvd.

For more information, call the M. D. Anderson Information Line at 1-800-392-1611.

For more information about cancer, call the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service at
1-800-4-CANCER.

03/13/01


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center