UNION CO. (WSIL) -- A recent study into colon cancer rates in southern Illinois revealed a higher than expected number.
Positive results for colon cancer in the Southern 7 region are higher than national rates, and the health department wants to know why.
In September 2019, Southern Seven Health Department began offering Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) kits to screen for possible colon cancer.
As of last month, 49 of the 59 test kits have been returned to the department and tested. The remaining 10 tests have not yet been returned.
Thirty-five of the tests were found normal, but fourteen of the tests were found abnormal or positive for blood in the sample.
That makes a 29% positive rate for colon cancer in the samples returned. The national average positive rate is 7-12%.
"We're hoping that we're going to be able to see some, maybe some trends, maybe some reasons why we see a high end of colon cancer in our area," said community outreach coordinator Shawnna Rhine.
FIT is for anyone age 50 or older who hasn’t had a colonoscopy in the last 10 years. This take home test detects blood in the stool with a 99% accuracy rate.
It’s non-invasive and requires no prep by the patient. The department encourages more adults to help with research.
For more information on the FIT take-home tests, call the Southern Seven Health Department at (618) 634-2297 or visit the department's website.
Kits are available at all Southern Seven locations.
To be a part of the research project, the kits must be returned by March.
FIT is not a cancer preventative, cure or treatment for colon cancer.