Cancer of the colon and rectum are closely related but somewhat different in their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Together, cancer of the colon and rectum are know as "colorectal" cancer. For both men and women, colorectal cancer is the third deadliest cancer and the third most commonly diagnosed cancer. It is the second deadliest form of cancer when men and women are combined.
Why Early Detection is Key
Colorectal cancer, perhaps more than other malignancies, may develop through a sequence of benign to malignant growths with the accumulation of mutations in the cells lining the inside of the colon and rectum. It is this process which is usually, but not always, gradual that allows for effective screening and the proverbial “nipping in the bud” of precancerous growths (polyps) or early cancers, which have not spread to lymph nodes or other organs, and remain truly curable.
Many people find a discussion, let alone an examination of their bowels, to be “embarrassing” or awkward. Many folks do not accept the fact of “natural aging” and the changes that accompany it, not the least of which is the accumulation of changes in our genetic material that put us at risk for cancer. Many of us are busy and do not give time to the maintenance of our health. For all these reasons, and others, lots of people do not obtain a screening for colorectal cancer as suggested by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and many other professional organizations.
Who’s At Risk?
Within the past year, studies have shown that colorectal cancer is affecting people at younger ages and that ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by this cancer. Therefore, UHA feels a special responsibility to its membership, which is ethnically diverse and on average younger than the population of Hawaii at large, to encourage and cover screening. UHA covers all of the legitimate screening methods at 100%. We actively encourage members to discuss these with their physicians and to pursue testing.
We hope that by continuing to offer free F.I.T. (fecal immunochemical test) kits to our members who qualify, we can improve compliance with testing and join the American Cancer Society Hawai'i Pacific to raise awareness of this very preventable and treatable disease. If you would like to know more about colorectal cancer prevention, call our Health Care Services team at (808) 532-4006 or 1-800-458-4600, extension 300, from the neighbor islands.