AARP and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) are encouraging Alabamians age 50-plus to be screened for colorectal cancer. Only 5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in Alabama are taking advantage of the free annual wellness visit, which includes scheduling for the screening.

Colorectal cancer was the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the state in 2012, according to ADPH, yet the disease is preventable when precancerous polyps are removed as a result of screening.

When colorectal cancers are detected at an early localized stage, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent. Only 39 percent are diagnosed at that stage, however, in part due to underuse of screening.

For more information, go to or call the state’s FITWAY program at 334-206-3336.

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