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Eric Ehrmann

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Colon Cancer Screening... It's Up To You

Posted: 03/06/2013 5:32 pm

Like other cancer fighting programs stuggling to stay strong in today's economy, National Colon Cancer Awareness Month has kicked off without much fanfare.

So far, the key takeway from "awareness month" is the message that getting checked out for one the world's biggest silent killers isn't a reminder from your health care provider, if you can afford one, it's all up to you.

Katie Couric, once the leading entertainment industry voice in the fight against colon cancer, has invested her efforts in promoting the more generic World Cancer Day, in February.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban continues his campaign encouraging men to slam dunk colon cancer by getting a colonoscopy. But that was last month too.

As colon cancer competes for mainstream media attention, efforts to promote colon cancer awareness and testing are overshadowed by the global increase this non-gender cancer.

Colon cancer is on the rise in the United States and globally among under-age 50 populations and the American Cancer Society and the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) lack the leadership, finances and coordination skills to sensitize large population segments.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for colorectal cancer for individuals in the United States starting at age 50.

Because entertainment industry personalities and health care providers continue to control the colon cancer awareness conversation, the voices of the post-50 generation are left behind, unless you are a celebrity or a person who agrees to be part of a sponsored awareness activity.

For example, a sponsored micro program that exploits computerized medical records has made some headway promoting colon cancer screening among managed care and so-called "safety net" clinics that assist populations that lack health care. But in a nation where Obamacare is reducing services and colon cancer strikes one in twenty people this is cold comfort.

The disdain for the over-50 population has a global dimension too. Recently the Japanese finance minister made headlines saying that he wished the elderly would hurry up and die.

Not all of us will leave the house due to colon cancer. But how we deal with the issue in the 21st century is a reflection on the human condition.

Disclosure note -- the writer is a 17 year colon cancer surviver. He was diagnosed at age 47 in 1995. Staged at Dukes C-3, he agreed to surgery (hemicolectomy with anastomosis and one year of chemotherapy (Moertels regime). Doctors gave him a 23% chance of living five years (until 2000). So far, around eight colonoscopies later, he is still beating the odds.

 
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