Putting a Face on Colon Cancer

Lexington, KY – According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the state of Kentucky ranks second nationally for both colon cancer incidence and mortality. But experts say with an early diagnosis, colon cancer can be cured about 90% of the time. However, more than one-third of the Kentucky population has never had a colon cancer screening, a rate that doesn't compare favorably to other states.

It is for this reason the University of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center and other related groups have teamed up to take the message of cancer screenings and survival to every corner of the commonwealth.

Debra Armstrong is the Division Director of the Kentucky Cancer Program at UK. She says a new photo exhibit called "Faces of Colon Cancer", featuring 9 individual cancer survivors from all walks of life, carries a strong message of early detection and prevention.

In Kentucky about 2,700 colon cancer diagnoses occur each year and sadly around 850 people succumb to the disease.

Perry County School Superintendant, John Paul Amis, one of those faces of colon cancer, says his battle with the disease began at a relatively young age. Amis credits early detection with saving his life.

Amis says the diagnosis did force him to make lifestyle changes, but he admits quite candidly that it beats the alternative.

And there is evidence that more Kentuckians are getting the message. Markey Cancer Center Director, Dr. Mark Evers says from 1999 to 2008, Kentucky screening rates rose from 34 to 63 percent of the age-eligible population.

The Kentucky Cancer Program is a state-funded consortium that includes 14 regional offices across the state; KCP at UK serves families affected by cancer in Central and Eastern Kentucky. Program Director Debra Armstrong says Faces of Colon Cancer has been designed as a traveling exhibit and she hopes everyone that sees it will be both informed and inspired.