- Colorectal cancer awareness month is observed in the month of March
- Colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable
- Early screening for colorectal cancer can save lives
The month of March is marked as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness on the importance of the screening, prevention, and treatment of colorectal cancer. In February 2000, the then President of the United States, Bill Clinton, officially dedicated the month of March as Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and Canada. The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age because more than 90 percent of the cases occurs in people aged 50 and older. Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because the signs and symptoms are similar.
Colorectal cancers begin as a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Over the years, some of the polyps present change into cancer. The two types of polyps present are adenomatous polyps and hyperplastic polyps. Nearly 90 percent of colorectal cancer can be avoided through early detection and removal of pre-cancerous polyps.
- Old age
- Family history of colon cancer
- Low-fiber and high-fat diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Change in bowel movements - diarrhea or constipation
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal discomfort - cramps or bloating
- Weight loss
Colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable. Early screening can help detect and treat cancer at an earlier stage. Colorectal cancer is most commonly found in individuals who are 50 years and older. However, statistics show that younger people are mostly being diagnosed with colorectal cancer, particularly those with Lynch syndrome.
The latest edition of Colorectal Cancer Statistics and its companion publication, Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures, show that the overall incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer has reduced. However, disparities by age, race, and tumor subsite remain.
Screening for Colorectal Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, the colon cancer death rate could be cut to half if Americans followed recommended screening guidelines. Last year, more than 50,000 people died of colorectal cancer in the United States. Currently about one in three adults between the ages of 50 and 75 (about 23 million people) is not being tested as recommended. This initiated the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable to entitle, "80 percent by 2018."
The goal of this initiative is to reduce colorectal cancer as a major public health problem in those who are 50 years and older, by ensuring that 80 percent of adults in this age-group is screened by 2018. The "80 percent by 2018 initiative" is led by the ACS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (an organization co-founded by ACS and CDC).
Colonoscopy performed every 10 years is the preferred colorectal cancer prevention test. For normal risk individuals, colonoscopy is recommended for those over the age of 50. However, African-Americans should begin screening at age 45. Other possible screening tests for colorectal cancer include:
- Fecal Immunochemical test, a relatively new test performed annually that detects hidden blood in the stool. If results are positive, a colonoscopy is performed.
- CT colonography or "virtual colonoscopy" is an X-ray designed to look for colon polyps and cancers. It is performed every five years. If polyps are detected, a colonoscopy is performed to remove these pre-cancerous growths.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is similar to a colonoscopy, but only evaluates a portion of the colon.
Statistics and Facts on Colorectal Cancer
- Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women
- In 2017, about 95, 520 new cases of colon cancer and 39,910 cases of rectal cancer were diagnosed in the United States
- In 2017, an estimated 27,150 men and 23,110 women will die from colorectal cancer
- Forty percent of the deaths from rectal cancer is misclassified as colon cancer deaths
- Since 2000, colorectal cancer incidence continues to decline by 32% in people who are 50 years and older
- Early screening can prevent 39,700 new cases of colorectal cancer and 37,200 deaths by 2030.
Tips to Prevent Colorectal Cancer
- Regular exercise may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer
- Eat healthy by including foods rich in fiber
- Spread awareness about the importance of screening for colorectal cancer (at age 50 and above)
- HOW MARCH BECAME OUR MONTH - (https://www.ccalliance.org/awareness-month/)
- March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month - (https://www.sgna.org/Events/Colorectal-Cancer-Awareness-Month)
- Colorectal Cancer Awareness - (https://healthfinder.gov/nho/MarchToolkit.aspx)