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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts Highlights Importance of Colon Cancer Screening

Media Contacts:

Taylor Gage, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1970

Leah Bucco-White, DHHS, 402-471-9356


March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts encouraged Nebraskans over the age of 50 to receive a colon cancer screening.  Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for Nebraskans.


“Preventive screenings play a key role in creating a healthier Nebraska and we know colon cancer screening saves lives,” said Governor Ricketts.  “I encourage Nebraskans over 50 to get screened if they haven’t already and to keep up with their recommended follow-up screening schedule.”


“Colon cancer screening is the best cancer screening we have in terms of prevention, early detection, and intervention,” said Dr. Alan Thorson, a Colon and Rectal Surgeon and member of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Women’s and Men’s Health Advisory Committee.  “Colon cancer screening can find precancerous growths which can be removed before they turn into cancer, making screening an important step we can all take in preventing colon cancer.  Screening can also find colon cancer in its earliest stage when it’s treatable.  Bottom line: colon cancer screenings save lives.”


10 fast facts about colon cancer and colon cancer screening in Nebraska:

1. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Nebraska. 

2. Colon cancer occurs more often in Nebraska than the rest of the nation.  The national incidence rate for colon cancer is currently 38.9 per 100,000 people.  Nebraska’s rate is 41.1 per 100,000.

3. Colon cancer death rates are about 30-40 percent higher among men compared to women both in Nebraska and throughout the U.S.

4. Colon cancer death rates in Nebraska have declined by more than 20 percent (18.8 to 15.0 per 100,000 people) during the last decade. 

5. Nebraska averages more than 900 new cases of colon cancer a year and about 350 colon cancer deaths a year.

6. Nebraska ranks 37th out of 50 states in screening for colon cancer.

7. Getting screened can save your life.  In the early stages, there are no symptoms of colon cancer. 

8. Finding precancerous growths can help prevent colon cancer. 

9. When colon cancer is found early and treated, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent.

10. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Nebraska adults over 50 reported being up-to-date on their colon cancer screening.


Risk factors for men and women:

  •        Being over 50.
  •        Personal or family history of colon cancer or colon polyps.
  •        Being a smoker, overweight, or inactive.


When and how should a person get screened?

  •        Men and women 50 years and older should be screened for colorectal cancer. 
  •        The best screening is the one that gets done. 
  •        The following screening tests are appropriate for colorectal cancer screening:
    •   FOBT/ FIT — in home stool testing kits.  These should be done every year.  These detects polyps or lesions that are bleeding.
    •   Sigmoidoscopy — Scope done of the lower two thirds of the colon to look for polyps and remove them.  Done every five years. 
    •   Colonoscopy — Scope of the entire colon to look for polyps and remove them.  Done every 10 years.
  •        Frequency of testing may be changed by healthcare provider based on personal and family history.


DHHS’ Colon Cancer Screening Program helps provide screenings across the state to Nebraska men and women.


“Colon cancer is preventable, beatable and treatable,” said Courtney Phillips, DHHS CEO.  “Nebraska is one of a handful of states fortunate to have state funding to support colon cancer screening initiatives.  Along with earlier treatment of colon cancer, screening also means that fewer people are dying from colon cancer in Nebraska.”


For people over 50, in home stool testing kits are offered free of charge at various distribution sites across the state.  A list of locations is below.


For people who are uninsured, the Nebraska Colon Cancer Screening Program offers in home stool testing kits and financial assistance for a colonoscopy through a medical provider if needed. 


Program guidelines include:

  •        Must be 50-74 years of age without health insurance that would pay for preventive services.
  •        Must be a citizen or legal resident of Nebraska.
  •        Must be at or below 225% of Federal Poverty Guidelines (i.e. a family of four can make up to $54,562).


Over the last 10 years, the program provided over 18,000 screenings with in home kits and 2,024 screening colonoscopies in which 691 precancerous polyps were removed.  Fifteen cases of colon cancer were also diagnosed.


Besides screening, there are other steps people can take to reduce the risk of colon cancer: Be active, eat healthy foods and quit smoking.


DHHS continues to work with statewide partners to increase screening for colon cancer.  Multiple organizations are moving forward with initiatives to increase screening across the state and have come together with a common goal of reaching 80 percent screened by 2018.  The following organizations have invested time and resources into provider initiatives to increase screening: UNMC College of Public Health, American Cancer Society, Nebraska Cancer Coalition, Nebraska Comprehensive Cancer Control, Federally Qualified Health Centers, Local Health Departments, and provider groups.


Additional information on eligibility and colon cancer along with enrollment forms can be found by visiting or by calling the Nebraska Colon Cancer Screening Program at 1-800-532-2227.




Home Testing Kit Distribution Sites


Great Plains Colon Cancer Task Force

P.O. Box 3434


(402) 354-5500

Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Dept.

3140 N St.


(402) 441-8043

North Central District Health Dept.

422 E. Douglas St.


(402) 336-2406

Three Rivers District Health Dept.

2400 N. Lincoln Ave.


(402) 727-5396

Central District Health Dept.

1137 S. Locust

Grand Island

(308) 385-5175

East Central District Health Dept.

4321 41st Avenue


(402) 563-9656


Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Dept.

2104 21st Circle


(402) 529-2233

Four Corners Health Dept.

2101 N. Lincoln Ave.


(402) 362-2621

Panhandle Public Health District

PO Box 337


(308) 262-2217


Public Health Solutions District Health Dept.

995 E. Highway 33, Suite 1


(402) 826-3880

Scotts Bluff County Health Dept.

4021 Ave. B


(308) 765-8980

South Heartland District Health Dept.


606 N. Minnesota Ave., Suite 2


(402) 462-6211