News & Events

Early detection of colorectal cancer may save a life

Jeff Axtell, M.Ed.

Did you know? Coconino County has approximately 12.7 cases of colorectal cancer per 100,000 people. Out of Arizona’s 15 counties, Coconino County ranks as the 10th highest for patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer and the 12th highest for deaths due to colorectal cancer.

March is designated National Colorectal Awareness month to raise awareness of and promote the need for early detection and diagnosis of this very treatable disease. Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer for both men and women and represents the third-highest cause of death among all cancers. The good news is that the number of deaths associated with colorectal cancer is declining. This is partially due to more people seeking early detection through screenings, as well as the removal of colon polyps before they can develop into cancer.

Colorectal cancer usually develops slowly within the colon or rectum and begins as a non-cancerous polyp which may form into a cancerous polyp. Some risk factors associated with colorectal cancer have to do lifestyle habits such as poor diet, consumption of alcohol, physical inactivity and being overweight. These are all personal habits a person can choose to change. Risk factors that contribute to colorectal cancer that cannot be controlled include being over 50 years old; individuals who have had an immediate relative (parent, sibling) with the disease; and ethnicity – African American men and women are the most susceptible for colorectal cancers. Individuals who have a personal history of colorectal polyps or chronic inflammatory bowel disease also are at risk for developing colorectal cancer.

Early detection for colorectal cancer is the cornerstone of preventing the disease. It is estimated that nearly 75 percent of colorectal cancer cases could be prevented through proper screening and regular colonoscopies to prevent the disease from maturing. Colorectal cancer screening is recommended for men and women over the age of 50 or those who have a family history of the disease or associated risk factors as previously mentioned.

The most common and least invasive screening tool for colorectal cancer is the fecal occult blood test. This test can detect very small quantities of blood in the stool which are a result of cancer or large polyps that bleed into the intestine. The test kits are very easy to use at home and are then mailed into the lab for processing.

Low-cost colorectal screening kits
The Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare are offering low-cost screening kits and lab results, as well as information about colorectal cancer throughout the month of March.

Individuals interested in the take-home screening kit can stop by the Cancer Center from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, to pick up the screening kit and learn more about colorectal cancer. The cost for processing and reviewing the screenings kit by a physician is $15.  The Cancer Center is located on FMC’s West Campus, 1200 N. Beaver Street.  For more information about this screening or other cancer-related questions, call the Cancer Center at 928 773-2261 or visit