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Jerry Kelly Issues Cologuard Challenge, Urging Fellow PGA TOUR Champions Players to Get Screened for Colon Cancer

03/01/2018

Tournament Defending Champion and Colon Cancer Survivor Tom Lehman First to Sign Colon Cancer Awareness Pledge

TUCSON, Ariz., March 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Three-time PGA TOUR Champions winner Jerry Kelly is raising the bar on his competitors when it comes to colon cancer screening. At a players-only meeting before the Cologuard Classic today, Kelly urged his friends and competitors to get screened for colon cancer.

Exact Sciences Corporation Logo (PRNewsfoto/EXACT SCIENCES CORP)

Throughout the season, Kelly will be asking PGA TOUR Champions pros to take the Cologuard Challenge, a pledge which asks them to talk to their health care provider and get screened for colon cancer.

"At age 50 you become eligible to play on PGA TOUR Champions," Kelly said. "That's the same age colon cancer screening is recommended to begin. Let's turn this coincidence into a cause and use our status as professional golfers to raise colon cancer awareness."

Immediately accepting the challenge was Cologuard Classic defending champion, Tom Lehman.

"A lot of people don't know this, but I'm a colon cancer survivor," Lehman said. "This is very personal for me because I know first-hand the importance about talking with your doctors and nurses about your health – even if the topic is a little uncomfortable. You risk missing a lot of great rounds of golf if you don't."

One of Lehman's doctors, David Ahlquist, MD of Mayo Clinic, is on hand at this week's tournament. Ahlquist treated Lehman nearly 25 years ago and went on to collaborate with Exact Sciences to develop Cologuard, an accurate, easy-to-use colon cancer screening test for average risk adults who are 50 years or older.  Cologuard is the title sponsor of this week's PGA TOUR Champions event in Tucson.

"Having the privilege to evaluate Tom at the Mayo Clinic, I predicted that he'd have good health and great success throughout his professional career," Ahlquist said. "What I didn't picture was that years down the road we'd be reunited at a golf tournament where we both have a personal connection. It's an honor to stand alongside him to help raise awareness for the importance of colon cancer screening."

Kelly's cancer connection

Jerry Kelly became officially involved in colon cancer awareness after exchanging stories with Exact Sciences chairman and CEO Kevin Conroy. Both lost friends and family members to the disease, creating a bond and shared mission to promote the importance of colon cancer awareness and screening. This was formalized in 2017, when Kelly began wearing a Cologuard hat at all his professional events. Since that time, Cologuard has partnered with the PGA TOUR to raise colon cancer awareness, becoming the official colon cancer screening sponsor of the tour.

"My goal is to get all of my competitors and friends to take the pledge and remain current with colon cancer screening guidelines," said Kelly. "I got screened with Cologuard shortly after I turned 50, and I will be personally reaching out to all the rookies to not only welcome them to the Champions Tour, but also to remind them that they've passed a major life milestone and need to get screened."

Fans stopping by the Cologuard booth at this week's Cologuard Classic, and at tour stops around the country, can learn more about the noninvasive test and take the same screening pledge as the pros.  While there, they can also test their golf skills on a custom miniature golf hole.  For each hole-in-one made, Cologuard will donate $1.00 to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation to support cancer research and services.

"Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer in America and is also one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer if it is detected early," said Conroy. "The problem is about one-in-three adults over the age of 50 aren't getting screened. Cologuard was designed as a patient-friendly test that will help more people get screened."

Cologuard is a noninvasive screening test for colon cancer that can be collected at home.  Once prescribed by a health care professional a Cologuard kit is shipped directly to the patient. Samples are collected on the patient's own time and are returned to the lab for processing using a prepaid shipping label. Unlike other screening methods, Cologuard requires no preparation, dietary or medication restrictions. Cologuard is intended for adults age 50-plus at average risk for colon cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer each year and the cancer takes the lives of 50,000 people per year.  This number exceeds breast cancer (41,000 deaths per year) and prostate cancer (26,000 deaths per year). Early detection is critical to battling colon cancer. When the disease is detected in Stage I, patients have a 94 percent five-year survival rate and the removal of precancerous lesions can prevent the disease.

Contact:  Scott Larrivee, Exact Sciences, 608-535-8673, slarrivee@exactsciences.com

About Cologuard
Cologuard was approved by the FDA in August 2014 and results from Exact Sciences' prospective 90-site, point-in-time, 10,000-patient pivotal trial were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2014. Cologuard is included in the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2016) and the American Cancer Society's (2014) colorectal cancer screening guidelines. Stool-DNA is included in the combined screening guidelines of the American Cancer Society / U.S. Multi-Society Task Force/American College of Radiology (2008), the American College of Gastroenterology guidelines (2009) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2016). Cologuard is indicated to screen adults of either sex, 50 years or older, who are at average risk for colorectal cancer. Cologuard is not for everyone and is not a replacement for diagnostic colonoscopy or surveillance colonoscopy in high-risk individuals. False positives and false negatives do occur. Any positive test result should be followed by a diagnostic colonoscopy. Following a negative result, patients should continue participating in a screening program at an interval and with a method appropriate for the individual patient. Cologuard performance when used for repeat testing has not been evaluated or established. For more information about Cologuard, visit www.cologuardtest.com. Rx Only.

 

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