New program provides 1,200 free colon cancer screenings - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New program provides 1,200 free colon cancer screenings

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Colon cancer is one of the most preventable causes of death -- and a new colon cancer screening program will help the low income and uninsured take the first steps toward prevention, providing about 1,200 screenings over the next 16 months.

Kenneth Osborne is proof that early cancer screenings work. He had seven inches of his colon removed, and back in 2003, he was fighting for his life again.

"They found out I had what's called Lynch Syndrome, where I can have many forms of cancer at one time," Osborne said. "I had a spot on my forehead. Then, I had nose reconstruction just last summer, and I just finished chemotherapy this June."

Dr. Stephanie Mayfield Gibson, the Commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health said Kentucky needs to step up to the plate when it comes to colon cancer prevention.

"As part of the Kentucky Cancer Registry, 2005 -2009 data shows Kentucky with the highest rate of colon cancer in the nation," she said. "We can do better and we are making strides."

A new program just announced will help others get colon cancer screenings and identify polyps. Thirteen local doctors have already agreed to give at least one free colonoscopy a month, and more doctors are volunteering for the Colon Cancer Prevention Program.

Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and the third most common cancer. African Americans are at the highest risk, and have the highest death rate.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, the Louisville Metro Health and Wellness Department Director says, "Here in Louisville, that rate is 31 percent higher in African Americans than in whites."

To be eligible for the program, participants must be uninsured, have an income at or below the federal poverty level, be between 50 to 64 years old, a U.S. citizen, legal resident alien and Kentucky resident.

Park DuValle Community Health Center and Family Health Centers will help coordinate and schedule screenings.

Osborne said if he had not been screened at age 50, he thinks he would be dead now.

"They need to pay attention to their bodies," Osborne said. "At the first sign of symptoms, they need to get checked. It's nothing to play with."

Stats show colon cancer is 90 percent curable if caught in the early stages. If everyone 50 years old or older had regular screenings, at least 60 percent of those deaths could be prevented.

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