Free colorectal cancer screening kits available - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Free colorectal cancer screening kits available

If you had the power to prevent your own cancer death, wouldn't you want to safeguard yourself today?  Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, but early detection could catch it before it becomes a potential killer.

It's fair to say that colonoscopies don't top the list of people's favorite medical screenings, but Dr. Alan LeBato, with Lake Charles Memorial's LSU Family Medicine Center says they are incredibly effective at finding polyps in their early stages.  "A polyp found in its early stages can be removed through the colonoscope and in essence, the cancer can be cured before it even progresses," said Dr. LeBato.

Typically, it takes about ten years for a polyp to progress into an actual cancer, which is why colonoscopies are not recommended each year.

Another tool in the colon cancer fight is the at home fecal occult blood test. Three stool samples are taken at home, then returned to the hospital the following week to be tested for blood - one of the indicators of possible colon cancer.  "If there's blood in it, then the sample test will turn a bluish color and if there's no blood in it, then it will be clear," said Dr. LeBato.

While genetics play a big role in a person's colon cancer risks, age does as well.  "Everyone over the age of 50 or anyone who has a first degree relative who had colon cancer before the age of 50 - they should probably start screening at age 40," said Dr. LeBato.

Colon cancer does not have to be a deadly diagnosis if people take early steps to monitor their own health.  "It is the second leading cause of cancer death and it is a preventable cause of death if found early," said Dr. LeBato.

It takes about a week for results to come back from the at home testing kits, and if something is suspicious, a doctor will follow up about a colonoscopy.

To get your free screening kit, stop by Lake Charles Memorial's Family Medicine Center at 1525 Oak Park Boulevard Thursday or Friday from 8:00 a.m.-noon and 1:00-5:00 p.m.  The kits are available on a first come, first serve basis.

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