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M. D. Anderson to Offer 3rd Annual Colorectal Cancer Screening Test Giveaway March 21

M. D. Anderson to Offer 3rd Annual Colorectal Cancer Screening Test Giveaway March 21
M. D. Anderson News Release  03/19/02

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. 21, 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.

In a statement issued by the White House on Mar. 4, President George Bush urged Americans to participate in colorectal cancer screening.

"During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, I encourage all Americans to learn more about this disease, to assist prevention efforts and to recognize the importance of colorectal screenings," President Bush said in the statement. "I call upon all Americans to take appropriate measures to protect themselves and their loved ones from this disease."

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. With early detection, however, the polyps may be removed.

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 requires a diagnostic colonoscopy to determine the cause of bleeding. Colonoscopy is excluded from the free screening.

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 informs individuals of test results and provide recommendations based on the results.

Each person age 50 or older will receive one test per person. Anyone age 50 or older is eligible for the free FOBTs - 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 screening recommendations.

Beginning at age 50, all adults should begin colorectal cancer screening. Screening recommendations include annual FOBT; flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years; annual FOBT combined with a flexible sigmoidoscopy (of the three options, annual FOBT combined with flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years is preferred); double contrast barium enema every five years; colonoscopy every 10 years. Colonoscopy may begin earlier and/or be done more frequently if an individual is at increased risk.

About 148,300 individuals are expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States during 2002, according to American Cancer Society figures. About 56,600 individuals are expected to die of the disease this year. In Texas, 9,500 individuals are expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, and 3,600 are expected to die of the disease.

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

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.


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center