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Free colorectal cancer screening kits at hospital

Posted: March 18, 2010 9:59 p.m.
Updated: March 19, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Last year, almost 50,000 deaths in the United States were attributed to colon cancer; but despite medical experts’ recommendations, many people choose to avoid a quick, relatively painless lifesaving test for the dreaded disease.

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is one of the most preventable diseases, yet it remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

The easiest way to prevent colon cancer is to schedule a screening colonoscopy.

“Symptoms for colon cancer can vary or there may be no symptoms at all, and men and women are equally at risk,” reports Rajinder Kaushal, M.D., Gastroenterology and Laboratory Services Medical Director at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. “When colon cancer is diagnosed early and treatment begins immediately, the chances of survival are excellent, which is why we stress the importance of screenings.”

The American Cancer Society reports that more than 145,000 people are diagnosed each year with colon and rectum cancer and attributes approximately 50,000 deaths to the disease.

In recent years, the incidence rate of colon cancer has decreased, as has the death rate. Decreases have largely been attributed to screening tests such as colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies.

Most colon cancers begin as polyps; so early detection is the key to prevention. Screenings are used to detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps before they have a chance to develop into cancer.

It is usually recommended that people start screening at age 50 as colon cancer is more likely to occur as people age.
Patients with increased risk for colon and rectal cancer include individuals with a personal history of polyps or a family history of colon cancer.

A diet high in fat and calories and low in fruits and fiber, and a sedentary lifestyle may also be associated with an increased risk.

“A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure, which we can perform at Henry Mayo’s outpatient GI lab,” explained Dr. Kaushal. “The patient drinks clear liquids and a cleansing drink the night before. There’s no discomfort during the procedure, which takes about 15 minutes, because the patient is sedated. Recovery time is 30 to 60 minutes. Many patients tell us the worst part is worrying about it rather than the actual procedure.”

In addition to screenings, the American Cancer Society suggests the following tips may help lower the risk of developing colon cancer:

* Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods (high-fiber diet).

* Limit intake of high-fat foods.

* Participate in 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity five or more days each week.

* Stop smoking.

* Maintain a healthy body weight.

In honor of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Newhall Memorial will distribute free colorectal cancer screening kits to adults age 50 and greater from March 22 to 26.

Colorectal cancer tests are categorized into two groups — tests that look inside the body: sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy; and tests done on stool samples. The fecal occult blood test being distributed detects blood in the stool, which is common with cancer of the colon or rectum. If blood is found, the patient should get a colonoscopy.

Although the fecal occult blood test is an acceptable annual screening for colorectal cancer, it is not the preferred method. The most comprehensive screening is a colonoscopy and, according to the American Cancer Society, should be completed every 10 years, beginning at the age of 50.

The colorectal cancer screening kits will be available at several locations daily, March 22 to March 26, including:

* Hospital Information desk in the main lobby; 23845 McBean Parkway, Valencia, 9 a.m. — 4 p.m.

* Valencia: Outpatient Lab, 23929 McBean Parkway, Suite 107; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5:30 p.m.

* Valencia: Outpatient Lab, 25775 McBean Parkway, Suite 102; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.

* Valencia: Outpatient Lab, Tourney Medical Plaza Building, 27420 Tourney Road, Suite 140; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.

* Canyon Country: Outpatient Lab, 27141 Hidaway Ave., Suite 202; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5:30 p.m.

* Newhall: Outpatient Lab, 23928 Lyons Ave., Suite 104; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5:30 p.m.

* Newhall: Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, 22900 Market Street; 8 a.m.–2 p.m.

Anyone interested in participating can pick up a free screening kit at one of the above locations, carefully read all instructions, complete the test at home, and return it to Newhall Memorial’s Information Desk for laboratory processing by April 9. Complete instructions will be included with the screening kit.

To locate a physician who can provide more information on colon cancer screenings and prevention, call Newhall Memorial Hospital’s physician referral Line at 661-253-8888 or visit


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