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"Already-screened" individuals helping colorectal cancer prevention effort

People across Oregon are sharing their stories about colorectal screening and urging others to follow their lead.

For Tom Foeller of Oak Grove, it was the "second wind on life," after his doctor caught and treated his colorectal cancer, that drove him to get involved. For Mary Schutten of Portland, it was watching her mother suffer from the disease, which screening could have prevented.

People throughout Oregon are telling friends, family members, and anyone else who'll listen, about their experiences getting screened for colorectal cancer. They all have their own reasons for helping spread the word about this important, easy and low-cost procedure. Bryan Wolfe of Hermiston simply made turning 50 his launching point for a regular screening regimen — and it probably saved his life. "I started getting screened after my 50th birthday," he says. "Screening is painless. It allowed my doctor to find and remove polyps and prevent cancer."

Colorectal cancer is the second most deadly form of cancer, but it's also one of the most preventable. Screening can find and remove precancerous polyps before they turn to cancer or catch cancer early when it's highly treatable. But too few men and women in Oregon are getting screened for colorectal cancer. Only 59 percent of Oregonians report being screened, compared to more than 80 percent for breast and cervical cancers.

The Oregon Health Authority, in partnership with local public and tribal health departments and community leaders, aims to increase screening rates. Its goal is to boost screening rates to 80 percent among Oregonians ages 50 to 75 by 2014.

Research found that Oregonians are most likely to get screened if they're encouraged to do so by someone they know and trust. The project focuses on a unique educational approach that asks already-screened Oregonians to talk about their experiences and encourage other people in their lives to follow their lead. "For many of them, this decision probably saved their lives," said Dr. Truman Sasaki, a surgeon at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, who worked on a Clatsop County pilot project.

To learn more about screening and insurance options visit www.TheCancerYouCanPrevent.org. Those who have been screened should talk about their experiences and recommend screening to people they know. They also can share their stories at http://thecanceryoucanprevent.org/your-stories/.