Tuesday, March 03, 2009
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HOPE Mobile to offer colorectal screening tests

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[March 03, 2009]  Screening for colorectal cancer doesn't always have to be as involved as undergoing a colonoscopy.

HardwareTo recognize Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the HOPE Mobile will have a limited number of fecal occult blood tests for patients who may be at risk. The tests will be available March 16-20. It's one of a few ways patients can determine whether they may have colorectal cancer or be at risk of the disease.

"This has advantages because it requires no preparation, it's easy, it can be done at home," says Debbie Hoover, coordinator of the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and a member of the Central Illinois Regional Cancer Partnership. "But it has some drawbacks because it can't recognize all polyps, only those that are bleeding."

The take-home test uses a special chemical solution that is put on top of the stool sample. If the card, pad or cloth turns blue, there is blood in the stool sample. But it doesn't necessarily mean the blood is caused by cancer; blood in the stool can be caused by a variety of different conditions.

"The best screening is the colonoscopy, but that requires a hospital or clinic and some preparation," Hoover says. "Most doctors suggest a baseline colonoscopy reading at age 50."

Another tool is an online calculator that can help men and women 50 and older determine their risk for colorectal cancer. The online tool, launched in December by the National Institutes of Health, can help patients and physicians determine when and how to screen for colorectal cancer. The Web address is http://www.cancer.gov/

One of the best weapons a patient can use when it comes to colorectal -- or any -- cancer, is to be aware and live a healthy lifestyle.

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"Any bleeding in the rectum or in the stool should be checked out," Hoover says. "Eating a good, high-fiber diet is helpful. Just generally keeping yourself healthy can lower your risk and puts you in better overall general health."

There are nearly 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

Hoover says that people 50 and older and African-Americans are at higher risk, as well as those with a family history of cancer.

"Know your family risk," she adds. "Anybody that has had colon cancer in their family or any cancer is at higher risk."

The HOPE Mobile is a component of the Healthy Communities Partnership, a collaborative organization comprised of dozens of community agencies. It is supported in part by the Abraham Lincoln Healthcare Foundation.

[Text from Healthy Communities Partnership file received from Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital]

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