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Free Colon Cancer Screenings: March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Cancer Services Program screens uninsured at age 45

Health Op-ed

The Cancer Services Program of the Finger Lakes Region (CSL-FLR) is now offering free colon cancer screenings for people ages 45 and older. People at average risk for colon cancer and who do not have health insurance may qualify.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force lowered the recommended age for colon cancer screening for people at average risk from age 50 to 45. The change comes as national and New York State data show that 9 out of 10 of new colon cancer cases happen in adults aged 45 and older. Some people are at higher risk for colon cancer due to family history, symptoms, or because they have other bowel diseases. People at high risk may need to begin screening before age 45.

“We are very excited to announce during Colon Cancer Awareness Month that we now start screening people at age 45 instead of 50,” said Sparkle Wells, outreach coordinator at CSP-FLR.

“The Cancer Services Program uses stool-based tests that are done at home and mailed to a lab. At-home testing is a great choice for many people during the pandemic, and the tests are safe and effective.”

Regular screening for colon cancer can save lives. Screening tests can find growths that can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests can also find colon cancer early when treatment may work best. 

Data show that among New Yorkers ages 50 to 75 about 30% are not up to date with colon cancer screening. Those who do not have insurance are even further behind with about one-half not up to date with colon screening.  In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many people to delay colon and other cancer screenings. 

“I can’t stress enough how important it is for New Yorkers to get back to regular, on-time screening,” said Wells. “Talk to your health care provider about your risks for colon cancer and your testing options. If you do not have health insurance or a health care provider, the CSP-FLR may be able to help you.”

The CSP-FLR offers free colon, cervical and breast cancer screening to eligible adults who do not have insurance. Call the CSP-FLR at 585-224-3070 for help and to find out if you qualify for free cancer screening.  

Submitted by the Center for Community Health & Prevention (CCHP) at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The CSP-FLR is supported by funds from the State of New York and is managed and facilitated by the CCHP.