Cancer Services Program: Screening is safe during COVID-19

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During Colorectal Cancer Awareness month this March, the Cancer Services Program (CSP) of the Central Region wants to remind the community that screening can be done safely at home using a stool-based test.

Beginning last March, there was a temporary shutdown of some health services to limit the spread of COVID-19 and according to an April 2020 report, this led to a 90 percent drop in colonoscopies in the U.S.

Stool-based tests, such as the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), are safe and effective. The test is done once a year by sending a small amount of stool to a lab where it is checked for blood. If the test comes back abnormal, a colonoscopy is needed to find out if the blood is from cancer.

If a colonoscopy is needed, whether it be for initial screening or as a follow up to an abnormal stool-based test, patients should feel comfortable that medical offices are taking many steps to lower the risk of getting COVID-19.

Safety precautions include mask wearing, screening staff and patients for COVID-19 symptoms, increased cleaning of hands and surfaces, and social distancing. Ask the office what steps they are taking to lower the risk for spreading COVID-19.

Regular screening for colorectal cancer can save lives. Screening can find cancer early when it may be easier to treat. Screening can also find growths (called polyps) that can be removed before they turn into cancer. If you are age 50 or older, you should get screened for colorectal cancer.

Adults younger than age 50 should talk to their health care provider about their risk for colorectal cancer and when to start screening.

The Cancer Services Program is ready to answer questions about colorectal cancer and help those who do not have insurance get a free screening.The CSP offers free colorectal cancer screening to eligible adults who are uninsured.

The CSP can help access treatment if needed. The program also provides free breast and cervical cancer screening. Call 1-888-345-0225 for more information.

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