Colon cancer awareness month: Take home test kits available at Tuba City Regional Health

TUBA CITY — March is colorectal cancer awareness month and, if you’re over 45, this month is a good time to get screened for colorectal cancer.

According to the latest cancer report compiled by the Navajo Department of Health, cancer is the second leading cause of death, and colorectal (colon) cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed among Navajo males. But if it is caught early it can be cured.

Tuba City Regional Health Care physician Dr. Myles Stone says that most early colorectal cancers do not produce symptoms. “This means that many people miss the opportunity for treatment when it is most effective,” Dr. Stone said. “Screening can even identify pre-cancers (polyps) so they can be removed before they ever cause problems.”

The Navajo Health Department cancer report also said cancer screening among the Navajos is low, particularly for colorectal cancer.

But there is now a test at-home product that is available for patients, said Dr. Stone.

The other option for colon cancer screening is a colonoscopy. “It’s a great choice for certain patients,” said Dr. Stone, “But it’s much more involved. The at home tests let people get screened whenever it’s convenient for them.”

The test kits work by checking the stool for small amounts of blood. That is often the earliest sign of serious problems like colon cancer.

“Our goal is to screen as many people as possible, and having a variety of options lets patients pick the right approach for them,” said Dr. Matthew Daab, chief of Family Medicine for TCRHCC.

Dr. Stone said all one has to do is visit any TCRHCC clinic and see a provider. “We can even do the initial meeting through telehealth, meaning that we can call you and ask a few questions. Then a kit will be mailed out to you. There is no cost and it’s a simple procedure with clear instructions. You then mail the kit back and we will contact you in a few days with the results,” Dr. Stone said.

“The technology behind at-home colon cancer tests was invented about 20 years ago,” Dr. Stone said. Over that time, multiple studies have shown how effective it can be at increasing access to accurate, safe screening.

“We highly recommend everyone out there to get screened. Tell your family and friends,” he said.

Information provided by TCRHCC.

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