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Free take-home colon cancer test kits at UnityPoint Health

Each year, 140,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer. UnityPoint Health is spreading awareness of the disease through educational workshops.

MUSCATINE, Iowa — UnityPoint Health is hosting workshops to spread awareness about colon cancer. 

"We're trying to raise awareness for the importance of early screening for colon cancer," Dr. Teresa Pangan said. "We can protect so many lives, or just quality of life, if we catch it early. You can get treatment and go on with your life."

According to Dr. Pangan, more than 140,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer each year. The cancer is treatable if caught early, with a 90% survival rate after 5 years. 

"If we don't catch it early, then you're looking at at least a year out of your life with appointments and chemo and radiation and possibly surgery," Dr. Pangan said. "That's a year taken away that we could have got if we caught it early."

Pangan says 50,000 people die each year from colon cancer, with Iowa and Illinois having some of the highest incidence rates in the country. On average, only 68% of the eligible population gets screened for the disease. 

In a joint effort between the Cancer Consortium of Iowa and the Gildas Club, UnityPoint Health is giving away take-home kits for those to screen themselves for colon cancer. 

"Colon cancer doesn't give you any symptoms or warning signs," Dr. Pangan said. "We've got to do screening in order to get on top of this. The earlier you do this, the better." 

The kits are free and people are encouraged to call (309) 779-5796 to request their kit. You can also visit their website here.

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