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Posted: Tue, 05 Nov 2013 12:02 CST
Category: Chronic Disease Prevention

Colorectal Cancer Screenings Vital, but Underused

According to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Vital Signs report released today, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer of men and women in the United States, following lung cancer. Colorectal cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Iowa.

Testing for colorectal cancer (colonoscopy and stool tests) saves lives, but only if people get tested. The CDC report released today shows about one in three adults between the ages of 50 and 75 years old is not getting tested as recommended. In Iowa, about 69 percent of residents ages 50 years or older have reported having a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy screening test, according to the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.

About two of every three adults who have never been tested for colorectal cancer have a regular doctor and health insurance that could pay for the test; however, many people do not know when they need to be tested and are not notified by their provider when it is time to be tested. Who should be screened for colorectal cancer?

  • Men and women age 50 or older
  • Younger than 50 with a personal or family history of polyp(s) or colorectal cancer
  • If you have signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer; have Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease; or have changes in your stool habits

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include blood in your stool; abdominal cramps that occur often for unknown reasons; losing weight for unknown reasons; constant tiredness; nausea or vomiting; and diarrhea, constipation or feeling the bowel does not empty completely. However, seven out of 10 people with colon cancer have no symptoms. This is why screening is vitally important.

To learn more about risk factors, screening and resources about colorectal cancer, visit For information about the CDC report, visit

Contact Information: Polly Carver-Kimm at (515) 281-6693

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