Colorectal Cancer Screening: Safe During COVID-19

By Carolyn Handville

There are many things we’ve had to put off because of COVID-19 but getting screened for colorectal cancer doesn’t have to be one of them.  Stool-based screening tests can check for colorectal cancer. These tests are done in the privacy and safety of your home.

The Cancer Services Program (CSP) of the North Country is asking adults to talk to their health care providers about a colorectal cancer test called FIT.  FIT (fecal immunochemical test) looks for blood in a small amount of stool. You do the test at home and mail it to a lab. If the test is normal, you do the test again in one year. If blood is found, you will need a colonoscopy to find out if the blood is from cancer.

A colonoscopy is done in a medical office. Many people are afraid to go into an office because of COVID-19, but health care providers are taking many steps to keep patients safe. Safety steps include making all staff and patients wear a mask, screening staff and patients for COVID-19 symptoms, increased cleaning of hands and surfaces, and social distancing.

March is Colorectal (colon) Cancer Awareness Month. This month the CSP is spreading the word that regular screening for colorectal cancer is low risk and can save lives. Colorectal cancer screening may find growths that can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening can also find cancer early when it may be more easily treated. If you are age 50 or older, you should get screened for colorectal cancer.  Adults younger than age 50 should talk to their health care provider about their risk for colorectal cancer and when to start screening.

If you don’t have insurance or a health care provider, our program may be able to help. The CSP provides free colorectal cancer screening to adults who qualify. We can also provide free breast and cervical cancer screening. Call 315-592-0830 today to find out if you qualify for any cancer screenings!

Carolyn Handville works for Oswego County Opportunities and is the program manager at Colon Screening Program of North Country, funded by the state of New York.