If you knew that you could help save more than 100,000 lives, would you do it? The American Cancer Society predicts that there will be 106,970 new cases of colon cancer along with 46,050 cases of rectal cancer this year, but many are preventable with screening.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This monthlong initiative focuses on colorectal cancer (CRC) and promotes research, diagnosis, prevention, treatment and hopefully, someday, a cure for this disease. Many Americans are at risk for colon cancer because they are unaware of the facts of the disease:
- Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
- Researchers estimate 52,550 people will die from colon cancer this year.
- No one is too young to develop colorectal cancer.
- Adults at average risk for colon cancer should begin getting screened at 45.
- Risk factors like age, family history, smoking, high-fat diet, diabetes, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and alcohol can increase the chances of developing colon cancer.
- If you have a family or personal history of colon cancer or polyps, you should get screened earlier than 45.
Colonoscopy is the gold standard for colon screening
Colonoscopy is the most effective colon cancer screening technique because it can not only detect colon cancer but also remove precancerous growths, called polyps, during a single procedure. Other tests can detect abnormal cells or blood in the stool, but patients must schedule a follow-up colonoscopy if they receive positive results. Colonoscopy uses a flexible tube with a camera to inspect the colon for abnormalities and remove or sample them for microscopic evaluation. Many people think colonoscopy is painful, but patients receive sedation and the procedure usually lasts less than 30 minutes.
Educate your community about colon cancer
Education is crucial for change, and that’s where you come in! You can do your part to get involved and spread the word about colon cancer awareness. Even children can be advocates for this life-saving cause. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Share on social media the importance of getting screened for colon cancer.
- Donate money to a group that supports colorectal cancer awareness like Fight Colorectal Cancer, Colorectal Cancer Alliance or the Colorectal Cancer Coalition.
- Wear a blue ribbon or a blue shirt on Mar. 3 — Dress in Blue Day.
- Talk with friends and family members about the importance of getting their first screening at age 45 (or earlier, depending on their family history). Send them this quiz to learn how and when they should get screened.
- Join a fundraiser for a nonprofit or charitable group focused on colorectal cancer education and research.
- Host an educational seminar at your local church, office or nonprofit group.
- Reach out to a local media outlet to discuss the disease and prevention on the air or in an article or editorial.
According to the American Cancer Society, colon screenings could prevent 60 percent of colon cancer deaths if people get screened starting at 45. Take the time to share with family and friends about the importance of getting screened and adopting healthy lifestyle habits that decrease colon cancer risk.