FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2015
Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391
CC coach Mike Van Diest, DPHHS team up to encourage colorectal cancer screening
Carroll College head football coach Mike Van Diest has compiled impressive stats over the years. In over 16 years at the helm for the Fighting Saints, Van Diest has six NAIA National Championships and 186 wins.
But, outside football, there’s one particular statistic that really caught his attention.
“There are 500 new cases of colorectal cancer in Montana each year. And, it’s also the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.,” Van Diest said. “These numbers really hit me hard.”
That’s why Van Diest is lending his voice to a new Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) public service campaign to encourage adults starting at age 50 and continuing to age 75 years to get screened for colorectal cancer. TV and print ads are now appearing in the Helena and Billings markets.
“If you’re 50 years and older, you need to get screened for colon cancer, and that means everyone,” he says in the TV spot. “Because we all want more game days and more championship days.”
He even sends a strong message to his current players. “Are you going to get screened when you turn 50?” Van Diest asks one player, although one can tell it’s really not a question.
“Yes coach!” the player responds enthusiastically.
According to Lisa Troyer of the DPHHS Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Bureau Cancer Control Programs, colorectal cancer screening can save lives by detecting precancerous polyps that are then removed or by detecting cancer early when treatment is most effective. “We really can’t say it enough, early detection is the key,” Troyer said. “I strongly encourage Montanans to be diligent about taking time to get screened at age 50. If it’s found and treated early, the 5-year survival rate is about 90 percent.”
Unfortunately, Troyer also notes that colorectal cancer screening in Montana is low. In 2012, only 56 percent of Montanans aged 50 years or older reported being up-to-date with a colorectal cancer screening.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the Cancer Control Programs is hoping to bring attention to these low rates and encourage adults over 50 to speak to their doctor about getting screened.
DPHHS provides free colorectal cancer screening for age and income eligible Montana residents. Montana men and women can be screened through this program for colorectal cancer and women can also receive breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Troyer said that people can decrease their risk of colorectal cancer by losing weight, adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity. “Our goal is to increase screening participation,” she said. “There’s many more lives that could be saved by increasing screening rates, and by making lifestyle changes.”
The TV PSA can be viewed on the DPHHS YouTube site at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoRZtZJetvA
For more information about the Montana Cancer Control Programs go to http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/cancer/