BUFFALO, N.Y. - Colon cancer is one of those topics people don't want to talk about, but people like Tess Fraser are determined to start a conversation about the disease that will affect one in 20 people in his or her lifetime.
"It's incredibly frustrating that it is still the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States when it is one of these cancers that is very preventable and treatable with screening. It feels like that shouldn't even be a statistic. It drives me nuts which is why I don't stop talking about it," said Fraser.
Fraser is a board member for the national Colon Cancer Alliance. She was also instrumental in bringing the Undy Run to Western New York. She became a champion for awareness after losing her mom to colon cancer five years ago.
According to the Erie County Department of Health, colon cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in New York and across the country. Each year more than 10,000 New Yorkers will develop colorectal cancer, and of that, 3,500 will die from the disease.
Colon cancer is also highly detectable and treatable if caught in the early stages. Doctors say colonoscopies are the gold star for colon cancer detection, but there are other, non-invasive alternatives, such as the fecal immunochemical test, or FIT. It's a highly sensitive test that detects small amounts of blood in your stool. It can be done in the privacy of your own home and sent to a lab for results. If there's a positive result, you should see your doctor for more testing.
During the month of March, the Erie County Department of Health is teaming up with Tops to distribute FIT kits to eligible adults.
Early detection saves lives! Click here to see if you are eligible for Erie County's Cancer Services Program. It helps cover costs for breast, cervical, and colon cancer screenings.
Click here for more resources on colorectal cancer risk factors, symptoms, detection, and treatment.