Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Nebraska, according to the state department of health.
Dr. Alan Thorson says it is important for those over the age of 50 to get a colon cancer screening.
“The earlier we can catch it, the better,” Thorson tells Nebraska Radio Network. “With screenings, we can catch cancers very early and we can catch premalignant lesions, known as polyps, and remove them. So, in that sense, screening can actually prevent colon cancer.”
Thorson says knowing your family medical history and discussing that with your doctor is important in determining cancer risk factors as well.
There are several options for screenings, including at-home test kits.
“A very good method is stool testing, stool blood testing,” Thorson says. “It almost has the same efficiency, if it’s done appropriately, as colonoscopy, but it has to be done every year to meet that efficiency.”
Thorson says the sooner you catch colon cancer, the better the chance of beating the disease.
For people over 50, in home stool testing kits are offered free of charge at various distribution sites across the state. A list of locations is below.
For people who are uninsured, the Nebraska Colon Cancer Screening Program offers in home stool testing kits and financial assistance for a colonoscopy through a medical provider if needed.
Program guidelines include:
- Must be 50-74 years of age without health insurance that would pay for preventive services.
- Must be a citizen or legal resident of Nebraska.
- Must be at or below 225% of Federal Poverty Guidelines (i.e. a family of four can make up to $54,562).
Home Testing Kit Distribution Sites:
Great Plains Colon Cancer Task Force Omaha (402) 354-5500
Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Dept. Lincoln (402) 441-8043
North Central District Health Dept. O’Neill (402) 336-2406
Three Rivers District Health Dept. Fremont (402) 727-5396
Central District Health Dept. Grand Island (308) 385-5175
East Central District Health Dept. Columbus (402) 563-9656
Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Dept. Wisner (402) 529-2233
Four Corners Health Dept. York (402) 362-2621
Panhandle Public Health District Hemingford (308) 262-2217
Public Health Solutions District Health Dept. Crete (402) 826-3880
Scotts Bluff County Health Dept. Scottsbluff (308) 765-8980
South Heartland District Health Dept. Hastings (402) 462-6211