The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is offering free, at-home colorectal cancer screening kits for men and women age 50 to 64 in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties who are uninsured or whose health insurance does not cover colorectal cancer screening.
“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.,” said Joshua Meyerson, medical director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “We can impact the number of colorectal cancer cases and deaths from the disease by increasing screening rate.”
If further testing is needed, it may be covered by the Colorectal Cancer Early Detection Program. If needed, the health department helps coordinate treatment with local hospitals and physicians.
Colorectal cancer is a cancer that forms in the colon and rectum; these are parts of the digestive system through which partially digested food and water passes on its way out of the body. The disease causes no symptoms in the early stages, although abnormal growths called polyps may develop in the colon or rectum. Most polyps are not cancer, but some may develop into cancer if they are not removed.
The exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, although there are several risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing the disease such as age over 50 years, presence of colorectal polyps, family history, high fat diet, smoking, certain genetic alterations and a personal history of cancer.
“Finding and removing polyps keeps people from getting colorectal cancer,” Meyerson said. “By improving colorectal cancer screening rates, we’re hoping to see fewer deaths.”
Call the Health Department of Northwest Michigan at (800) 432-4121 to check eligibility and request an at-home screening kit.