Kentucky: Giving People a Fighting Chance to Beat Colon Cancer
Cancer of the colon (large intestine) is life-threatening and expensive to treat. Kentucky has one of the highest rates of new colon cancer cases in the United States. The disease kills more than 900 Kentuckians each year, and many people who are likely to get colon cancer can’t afford the recommended tests or medical care.
Kentucky uses a portion of its Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant funding to support the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Program (KCCSP). The funding pays for staff support and activities to raise public awareness about colon cancer throughout the state. Patient navigators are also a key part of the program. The navigators are located in communities throughout the state and help program participants understand the colon cancer screening process.
People can reduce their colon cancer risk by getting the recommended tests and removing precancerous growths—called “polyps”—early. People can have polyps for years without knowing it. One way to check for polyps is to have a colonoscopy, where a tiny, flexible camera is used to look inside the colon. Screening tests that look for hidden blood in the stool, which can be an early sign of colon cancer, are also used.
One way KCCSP educates the public about colon cancer is with their educational colon exhibit. At community sites across the state, participants are able to walk through a large, interactive model of a colon, which shows how polyps form and can lead to colon cancer if not treated. In 2014, more than 80,000 Kentuckians walked through the exhibit to learn about colon cancer screening and prevention. Nine hundred and seventy-four people without insurance were screened for colon cancer, 80 had polyps removed, and 5 people who were diagnosed with colon cancer got treatment.
Story year: 2015