March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the American Cancer Society is promoting safe screening practices.
“Colon cancer is one of only a handful of cancers that can be prevented through screening,” says Al Stabilito, of the American Cancer Society. “Precancerous polyps, from which colon cancer often develops, can be detected and removed before they become cancerous.”
Important Facts about Colon Cancer:
The third leading cause of cancer death in America is colorectal cancer.
An estimated one-third of colorectal cancer deaths could be avoided if people 50 and older had regular screening.
Colorectal cancer is very treatable and the success rate is very high when detected in its early stages.
Symptoms are not always present in people who have polyps or colorectal cancer. When colon cancer is detected in the early stages, the survival rate is more than 90 percent.
Risk increases with age. Most cases, about 92 percent, occur in people 50 and older.
Both men and women are at risk of developing colorectal cancer.
The publication of Cancer Facts & Figures 2009 has been delayed, but in 2008 the American Cancer Society estimated 153,000 new cases of colon and rectal cancers. Of which 50,000 will die of the disease.
Screening rates have recently gone up, likely as a result of increased efforts to raise awareness of the importance of screening. According to the 2007 Annual Report to the Nation on the status of Cancer, there was a 4.9 reduction in colon cancer death in men and a 4.5 reduction in women between 2002- 2004.
The take home message is easy: both men and women are at risk of colon cancer and should begin screening at 50. It very well may save your life.
Remind your parents and your grandparents to get screened. And when the time comes, follow your own good advice and get screened. #
** Editor's note:
While most cases of colon cancer occur in those that are 40 and older, it can happen at any age and the risk increases with age. Certain conditions are associated with a higher risk including family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer quoted from the Mayo Clinic include:
A change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool for more than a couple of weeks
Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
Abdominal pain with a bowel movement
A feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely
Weakness or fatigue
Unexplained weight loss