WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. A report from the American Cancer Society says this year, it will be the second-leading cause of cancer death in Ohio. But a local oncologist says the key is regular screenings to catch it early.
Trumbull Regional Medical Center is offering free colorectal screening kits right now to anyone who wants one.
“There is a step-by-step instruction kit in there so there’s no questions,” said Luana Andamasaris, a radiation oncology nurse.
The idea is prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in Ohio, there are 40 new cases of colorectal cancer for every 100,000 people.
Experts say if adults over age 50 had regular screenings, as many as 60% of deaths from this disease could be prevented.
“If you can have the polyps removed before they turn into cancer, then there’s no development of cancer,” said Dr. Roger Tokars, a radiation oncologist at Trumbull Regional.
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A recent study released by Oak Street Health shows 31% of older adults do not know what the symptoms of colorectal cancer are.
“Blood in your stool, change in caliber of the stool, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss,” Tokars said.
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The study found half of adults don’t know what age they should start getting screened, which is 45.
“If everything is normal, they usually don’t screen again for ten years,” Andamasaris said. “If they find polyps or something, then the doctor will decide when your next screening could be. It may be three to five years if there’s no cancer found.”
Tokars said people should understand how common this cancer is to help break the stigma.
“It’s so important to get your screening and find these tumors early in the stage in order to go on and have a long and happy life.”