To increase awareness of colon cancer, the American Cancer Society this month — Colon Cancer Awareness Month — is offering free testing kits in Wichita.
The take-home Fecal Occult Blood Tests are available for individuals 50 years and older or anyone with a family history of colon cancer at Walgreens pharmacy locations at Central and Hillside, 13th and Waco, Central and West, Harry and Broadway, 55th and Broadway, and Harry and Edgemoor.
The kit is noninvasive and painless, said Dana Kemp, the group’s regional communications director. Participants can follow the instructions to mail stool samples into the lab, she said.
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the U.S., Kemp said.
In Kansas, an average of 1,300 people are diagnosed each year, with around 480 dying from the cancer, according to 2011 numbers, she said.
Sue Mehser of Wichita was diagnosed in 2010 after she started to experience severe stomach pains.
“My husband mentioned my symptoms to his doctor, who immediately cleared his schedule to look at me,” she said. “After inconclusive tests, I was sent to the hospital for more tests, then rushed into surgery where they took out two tumors and part of my colon.”
Mehser’s cancer was already at stage three, but thanks to surgery and chemotherapy, she now is in remission.
“It’s important for everyone to get tested,” she said. “It’s such an easy cancer to get tested for.”
Colon cancer often is symptomless until it gets into later stages, Kemp said. The cancer society urges everyone older than 50 to be tested yearly. Those with a family history are urged to be tested earlier.
“My biggest symptom was sudden unexplained weight loss,” Mehser said. “While a good thing, this is often a warning sign for cancer.”
Kemp said the free kits are the most cost-effective way to test for colon cancer.
For more information on colon cancer and the colon cancer screening test, consult your physician, call 800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.