State urges screening for colon cancer

HONOLULU — The state Department of Health recently launched a campaign to encourage adults 45 to 75 years old to get screened for colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is the second-leading cancer killer in Hawai‘i. According to the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center’s Hawai‘i Tumor Registry, approximately 700 men and women are diagnosed, and 225 people die from colorectal cancer each year.

“Now is the time to catch up on cancer screenings,” said DOH Deputy Director of Health Resources Danette Wong Tomiyasu. “Postponing screening visits may delay life-saving treatment,” she said.

”We are encouraging everyone to call their health-care provider to schedule their overdue screenings. Our health-care facilities have put protocols in place to ensure patients can access these services safely during the pandemic.”

“As a colon-cancer survivor, I strongly urge people to get screened for colon cancer,” said survivor and advocate George Stewart. “I’m here today because screening found my cancer early enough that treatment was effective.”

Colon-cancer screening tests can also find pre-cancerous polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer. While routinely recommended for everyone ages 45 to 75, those older than 75 may still choose to be screened, and should talk to a health-care provider for individualized guidance.

“There are several options for colon-cancer screening, such as stool tests, colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and computed tomography (CT) colonography,” advises Dr. Ankur Jain, governor for Hawai‘i for the American College of Gastroenterology and co-vice-chair of the Hawai‘i Comprehensive Cancer Coalition. “When I meet with patients, I discuss the most-appropriate test for their situation. The best colon-cancer screening is the one that gets done.”

The Get Screened Hawai‘i campaign launched in March, Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The campaign is slated to run through June, and includes radio, digital, social-media, print and mall advertisements.

Visit the campaign website,, to learn more about colon cancer, screening recommendations and options for screening tests.


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