DOH reminds 45-75 year olds “now is the time” to get screened for colorectal cancer
The Hawaiʻi state Department of Health is reminding individuals between the ages of 45 and 75 that “now is the time” to get screened for colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer.
According to the DOH, colorectal cancer develops in the colon or the rectum and affects both men and women. An estimated 700 people are diagnosed and more than 200 die from colon cancer each year in Hawaiʻi, according to the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center’s Hawaiʻi Tumor Registry.
Screening recommended for 45-75 year olds:
It is the second leading cancer killer in Hawaiʻi, but DOH officials say “it doesn’t have to be.”
“Colon cancer usually develops slowly over a period of many years and can be prevented if precancerous polyps are found and removed before they turn into cancer. Screening can prevent colon cancers from occurring and detect cancers when they’re most treatable,” according to the DOH.
The DOH advises that adults between age 45-75 should be screened for colon cancer regularly.
Studies show rates of colon cancer among people younger than 50 are on the rise, according to the DOH. The department expects that the recent expansion to recommend screening beginning at age 45 should result in significantly more lives saved. The decision to be screened between ages 76 and 85 should be made on an individual basis with a healthcare provider, the DOH advises.
Colon cancer screening options:
The most common screening is a colonoscopy, a short procedure using a thin, flexible, lighted tube to find and remove polyps and some cancers from the large bowel. Other screening options include blood tests, DNA stool tests and more. Each has their pros and cons, including overall effectiveness, as well as the amount of prep work and time required.
“Colonoscopies help identify polyps or precancerous growths and potentially provide treatment by removal at the same time,” said Dr. Ankur Jain, Governor for Hawaiʻi, American College of
Gastroenterology and Co-Vice-Chair of the Hawaiʻi Comprehensive Cancer Coalition. “The best
screening test, though, is the test that gets done, period,” Dr. Jain stressed, “so speak with your
healthcare provider, and make sure you get screened at an appropriate time.”
“Now is the time to catch up on cancer screenings. Postponing screening visits may delay life-
saving treatment,” said Deputy Director of Health Resources Danette Wong Tomiyasu. “We are encouraging everyone to call their healthcare provider to schedule their overdue screenings. Our healthcare facilities have put protocols in place to ensure patients can access these services safely during the pandemic.”
Suggested actions DOH advises:
- If you’re between the ages of 45 and 75, call a healthcare provider today.
- Your healthcare provider can help you find a colon cancer screening test that is right for you and let you know how often you should be tested.
- If you don’t have a healthcare provider, call Aloha United Way 2-1-1.
Visit GetScreened.hawaii.gov for more information about colon cancer screening.