Because colorectal cancer prevention is so important, in 2000, advocates for colorectal cancer awareness joined together and designated March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The goal was to raise awareness about the disease, to motivate people to talk about colorectal cancer prevention and to encourage screening.
This is a particularly important year for National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: that is because it is the culmination of the “80% by 2018” initiative. Through “80% by 2018,” hundreds of organizations across the nation joined together and pledged to do their part to help eliminate colorectal cancer as a major public health issue. Their shared goal is to impact 80 percent of the eligible U.S. population so they get screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.
Pledge to Talk About Colorectal Cancer
This year, why not support the “80% by 2018” initiative on your own? Talk about colorectal cancer prevention with your family, friends and co-workers. Here are some facts you can share as part of your discussion:
- Colorectal cancer is the nation’s second leading cause of cancer death for both men and women
- It is highly preventable if you get screened regularly beginning at age 50
- Over 90 percent of those who develop colorectal cancer are over age 50
- You could have colorectal cancer and not know it, therefore, screening by a doctor is important
- Colon cancer symptoms include blood in the stool, cramping or stomach aches that persist, and unexplained weight loss
Some People Are at Higher Risk
You should also be aware that certain people are at higher risk for the disease and make a special effort to talk to these individuals about colorectal cancer prevention. Risk factors include:
- Having a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
- Having Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease
- Not getting enough exercise
- Not eating a healthy diet
- Using alcohol or tobacco
- Being overweight or obese
About Preventive Screening with Colonoscopy
According to current colon cancer screening guidelines, men and women of normal risk should have a colonoscopy at age 50 and every 10 years thereafter. During the colonoscopy, a physician will view the length of the colon and rectum through a colonoscope to look for any abnormal growths.
The doctor can usually remove any polyps found during the colonoscopy, so the patient does not need to undergo another procedure. Although most growths found in the colon are benign polyps, some can become cancerous, so the removed tissue is sent to a lab for testing.
To learn more about National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, visit www.ccalliance.org/awareness-month.