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  • Hospital and OCHD hosting colon cancer awareness event March 9; FREE colon cancer screening kits available

Hospital and OCHD hosting colon cancer awareness event March 9; FREE colon cancer screening kits available

Onslow Memorial Hospital (OMH) and Onslow County Health Department (OCHD) will host a special event on Saturday March 9 as part of colon cancer awareness month.

The event will begin at 9:00 am at OMH Rehab. Participants will receive education about colon cancer, impacts on the colon from smoking, and proper nutrition for a healthy colon. As part of the OCHD’s Step Up program, participants will be invited to take a lap around the Hospital’s wellness trail. In addition, participants can pick up free do-it-yourself colon cancer screening kits that allow for easy stool collection at home.

“March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and if we can prevent just one instance of colon cancer in Onslow County, then our effort to provide this free screening will have been worth it,” said Tracy Sobiesienski, the hospital’s Director of Education and community outreach coordinator for cancer education and prevention.

The screening, a fecal occult blood stool test kit, is for people age 50 and older or anyone with risk factors for colorectal cancer. It is private (done at home), painless, easy – free! – and available from Onslow Diagnostics throughout the month of March.

“If you can’t make it to the March 9 event, you simply pick up the free kit at Onslow Diagnostics, follow the easy directions to collect a sample at home, then bring the completed kit – which is packaged so that no one knows what you are carrying – back to the hospital for testing. Our staff calls you at home with the results,” Sobiesienski explained.

The test detects blood in the stool through a chemical reaction. While blood in the stool may be from polyps or cancers in the colon, it can also be caused by ulcers, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis (tiny pouches that form at weak spots in the colon wall), or inflammatory bowel disease (colitis). An abnormal test is not necessarily cancer. “And, keep in mind that often times when detected early, colon cancer is highly treatable,” Sobiesienski added.

If the results do show blood present, patients will be advised to follow up with their primary care physician to see if further screenings, such as a colonoscopy, are needed.

Colon cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Research shows that people who are physically active at least five days a week, with sustained exercise of 30 minutes or more, typically have a 25% lower risk of colon cancer than people who are less active. Participating in the hospital’s HealthyInOnslow program is an easy way to stay active! Find out more here: www.healthyinonslow.org In addition to daily exercise, you can help prevent colon cancer by adopting other healthy lifestyle choices such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, eating more fruit and vegetables, and getting regular screenings.

Pick up your free colon cancer screening kit from Onslow Diagnostics, located at 200 Memorial Drive in Jacksonville. Onslow Diagnostics is now open on Saturdays, 8 a.m.–12 noon, as well as Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (910) 577-2900 or visit Onslow.org/ColonHealth for more information.