Effingham hospital promotes colon cancer screening

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St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham is joining a national initiative to have more people screened for colon cancer.

The initiative, which began with an effort by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aims to have 80 percent of people fifty and over up-to-date on their colorectal screenings by 2018.

“Screening is essential to picking up those cancers early: either a very localized cancer or even a pre-cancerous polyp,” said pathologist Steve Jones. “It’s vital to pick that up early, because the treatments are different, they’re a lot simpler, and, of course, the prognosis is a lot better.”

While doctors say the “gold standard” of screening is a colonoscopy every ten years, they point out there are other tests as well, including a test for fecal blood that can be performed at home and must be taken annually.

“That’s been a significant part of our approach is to increase the awareness of the available testing,” said registered nurse Mary Finley. “An individual doesn’t necessarily have to go immediately to the colonoscopy.”

The hospital plans to achieve its 80 percent goal through education programs and special screening events.

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