March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Hospital Offers Free Cancer Screenings


(Covington, La.) Colorectal cancer, or cancer of the colon and rectum, is the second leading cancer killer of men and women in the United States. Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital wants to change that.

“While most people think of the Cancer Center as a leader in cancer treatment, our facility has also made a major impact in the area of early detection,” said Cancer Center Administrator Rob Leonhard. “March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to pick up a free take-home kit at one of our Early Bird mobile clinic colorectal cancer screenings to use in the privacy of your home.”

Free screenings in March include:

  • Breast and colorectal cancer from 9- 11 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m. March 14 at Nielsen’s Pharmacy, 1619 S. Columbia St., Bogalusa.
  • Colorectal, prostate and skin cancer screenings from noon to 3:30 p.m. March 28 at Best Buy, 69344 LA Highway 21, Covington.

Colorectal cancer starts with benign polyps that often bleed, so staff members at each screening will distribute free take-home kits that test for hidden blood in the stool. The take-home kit, which must be picked up by the user, is not a substitute for a colonoscopy, which is the gold standard for screening.

There usually are no symptoms in colorectal cancer’s early stages, making screenings vitally important. If you see bright red blood with your bowel movements, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.

Age is the primary risk factor for colorectal cancer. More than 90 percent of cases are diagnosed in individuals older than 50, which is the recommended age to begin receiving screenings. If there is a family history of colorectal cancer, it’s recommended to begin screenings sooner. Check with your family doctor for the most appropriate screening option for your age and medical history.

Appointments are required for breast cancer screenings only and can be made by calling (888) 616-4687.

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital provides comprehensive cancer care that strives to positively impact the lives of cancer patients and their families on the Northshore. Services include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, as well as patient navigation, clinical trials and free community screenings. Not only do patients have access to these vital cancer services and high quality cancer care, but these services are readily available close to home.