The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is now providing no-cost screening and follow-up for colorectal cancer for eligible Mainers.

Maine recently received a five-year federal grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide colorectal cancer screening services for eligible people aged 50 and older, who are underinsured or uninsured, and who earn less than 250 percent of federal income guidelines. The funds will also be used for public education and evaluation of the efforts.

“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women age 50 years and older both in Maine and the nation,” said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, director of the Maine CDC, in a news release. “Almost 900 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year in Maine, and about one-third of them die. Yet 90 percent of these deaths are preventable with appropriate screening and follow-up starting at age 50.”

One of the challenges is that the most common symptoms of colorectal cancer are no symptoms. Therefore, screening is a critical tool to save lives, Mills said.

Maine CDC has partnered with the American Cancer Society, Central Maine HealthCare Corporation, Eastern Maine Health System, the Healthy Maine Partnership, the Maine Cancer Consortium, the Maine Cancer Registry, MaineGeneral Medical Center, MaineHealth, Maine Primary Care Association, Maine’s tribal communities, Medical Care Development, and other Maine CDC programs, among many others, to implement this program and provide services and education to all Mainers regardless of geographic location.

Eligibility criteria for receiving no-cost screening and follow-up services through the new initiative include both financial and clinical considerations. For more information, or to determine if someone is eligible for the services, call the Colorectal Screening Hotline at 877-320-6800.