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Kelly Sugihara from Wyoming Cancer Resource Services makes rounds to raise recognition of screenings during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

With March being Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Kelly Sugihara from the Wyoming Cancer Resource Services is making rounds to educate parts of the state about the importance cancer screenings.

With her organization she helps people without insurance to be able to get colorectal, cervical, or breast cancer screenings for free. She says Wyoming is the second lowest in the nation for pre cancer screenings.

“We’re at the bottom of the barrel,” Sugihara said.

She doesn’t exactly know why, but wants to see it improve. She says the second most common cancer is colon cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is estimating about 52,000 cases in 2021 in the United States.

“It’s very common, but it also is very treatable if caught early,” Sugihara said. “So, there are a lot of prevention that goes along with that.”

She says she understands it is not a very easy subject to talk about, but the preventive screenings are so important to saving lives. With colon cancer, you should get your tests done once you have reached the age of 50.

“If you do have a family history of colon cancer there are recommendations to start your colonoscopy early,” Sugihara said. “I would suggest speaking with your primary care physician.”

She also says if you do not have a doctor you regularly see, you can use an at-home stool kit. She says you can easily purchase one on the internet or you can reach out to a local healthcare provider and they can supply it to you.

Sugihara says the Breast, Cervical, Colorectal Program is state funded. She is based in Sweetwater County, but she represents much of West and Southwest Wyoming.

She says the programs does have income restrictions, but if you are a family of one and make less than $15.48 per hour you can qualify. You must also be a resident of Wyoming for at least one year and must be uninsured or underinsured to qualify. It is a two year program and if you ever got a diagnosis the nurses are there to help guide you to an insurance carrier. The program also helps you navigate any barriers you may have like paying bills and such as well.

You can reach out to her directly if you would like, but you can also work with your primary care physician. Another way is to visit the Wyoming Department of Health’s website to contact the Resources division.