MURPHYSBORO — The Jackson County Health Department is making take-home colon cancer screening kits available to people who are older than 50 years old and have not had a colonoscopy.

The kits are available during flu clinics that the health department is hosting and from walk-ins at the center, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; the health department is closed on Fridays. One of the next public flu clinics is 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale (for state employees and their families).

The health department notes that the take-home colon cancer screening kits are not meant to replace a colonoscopy, but it is "an option for people looking for a comfortable way to screen for colon cancer," according to a news release.

Colon cancer is a cancer of the colon (the large intestine) or rectum. The disease is most often found in people over the age of 50 and its occurrence increases with age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of deaths from cancer for men and women, according to the CDC; each year, about 140,000 people are diagnosed and 50,000 die from it.

Those most at risk for developing the cancer have had colorectal polyps or cancer; have a family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer; have inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn's syndrome or ulcerative colitis; or have a genetic syndrome.

Illinois was 12th among states with the top highest incidences of colon cancer through 2014, according to the CDC. The state's rate was 42.3 deaths per 100,000 people. Neighboring Kentucky and Iowa had the highest rates — and Mississippi tied with Iowa — with 49.4 deaths and 46.3 deaths per 100,000 people respectively.

The reduction in cancer is part of three major focuses of the Jackson County Community Health Improvement Plan, a four-year plan set to run through December 2019.


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Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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