Amercian Cancer Society Hails March as the Colorectal Awareness Month
Over the past few decades, more people have been surviving colon cancer, and fewer people have been dying from it. This is thanks partly to improvements in colon cancer screening. Screening, the process of looking for cancer or pre-cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease, can find colon cancer early, before symptoms develop, when it’s easier to treat. Screening can also sometimes find growths called polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends regular colon cancer screening for most people starting at age 50. People with a family history of the disease or other risk factors should talk with their doctor about beginning screening at a younger age.
Several different tests can be used to screen for colon cancer:
- Colonoscopy uses a lighted tube with a small camera on the end to examine the entire length of the colon and rectum. If polyps are found, they may be removed during the test. To prepare for the test, you may be asked to follow a special diet and use enemas or strong laxatives (called a bowel prep) to clean out your colon. Most people are sedated during the test.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to colonoscopy, but examines only part of the colon and rectum. If polyps are found, they may be removed during the test, or you may need to have a colonoscopy later. Bowel prep may be required. Most people do not need to be sedated during this test. If suspicious areas are seen, a colonoscopy will be needed to look at the rest of the colon.
- Double-contrast barium enema is a type of x-ray test. It requires bowel prep, but no sedation. If suspicious areas are seen on the test, a follow-up colonoscopy will be needed.
- CT colonography (also called virtual colonoscopy) is a scan of the colon and rectum that produces detailed cross-sectional images so the doctor can look for polyps or cancer. It requires bowel prep, but no sedation. If suspicious areas are seen on the test, a follow-up colonoscopy will be needed.
- Fecal occult blood test and fecal immunochemical test are used to detect tiny amounts of blood in the stool that could indicate the presence of polyps or cancer. People take these tests at home with a kit they receive from their doctor’s office, along with instructions. A positive result will need to be followed up with a colonoscopy. However, many times the cause is a non-cancerous condition, such as ulcers or hemorrhoids.
Regular screening is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colon cancer. If polyps are found during colon screening, they can usually be removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Screening can also result in finding cancer early, when it is easier to treat and more likely to be curable.
Lower your risk
Diet, weight, and exercise all affect your risk for colon cancer. You can help lower your risk by eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and less red meat (beef, lamb, or pork) and less processed meat (hot dogs and some luncheon meat). Men should limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day, and women to no more than 1 drink a day.
You can also help lower your risk for colon cancer by getting more exercise and staying at a healthy weight. Smoking also increases the risk, so if you smoke, try to kick the habit.
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2011 about 141,210 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer
and about 49,380 people will die of the disease in the US. In both men and women, colorectal cancer is the third
most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death. The majority of these cancers and
be prevented by applying existing knowledge about cancer prevention and by increasing the use of
established screening tests. In the past decade, there has been unprecedented progress in reducing colorectal cancer
incidence and death rates in most US population groups; this progress has come about largely through the prevention
and early detection of colorectal cancer through screening. Even more progress is possible by increasing access to
and utilization of colorectal cancer screening tests; currently, only about half of people aged 50 or older, for whom
screening is recommended, report having received colorectal cancer testing consistent with current guidelines.
Screening has the potential to prevent colorectal cancer because most colorectal cancers develop from adenomatous
polyps. (Polypsare noncancerous growths in the colon and rectum.) Though most polyps will not become cancerous,
detecting and removing them through screening can actually prevent cancer from occurring. Furthermore, being
screened at the recommended frequency increases the likelihood that when colorectal cancer is present, it will be
detected at an earlier stage, when it is more likely to be cured, treatment is less extensive, and the recovery is much
In addition to following recommended screening guidelines, people can reduce the risk of developing or dying from
Colorectal cancer by maintaining a healthy body weight, regular physical activity, limiting intake of red and
priority because the application of existing knowledge has such great potential to prevent cancer, diminish suffering,
and save lives. This third edition of Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures is part of the Society’s effort to motivate the
public and medical communities to prevent the tragic and avoidable suffering caused by colorectal cancer. It is
intended to provide basic information about colorectal cancer to the general public, the media, and health
professionals. More detailed information on many topics related to colorectal cancer is available on the American
Cancer Society’s Web site at cancer.org
Introducing a new ACG Colorectal Cancer Prevention Campaign, “Take the Quiz. Get the Test,” which asks the question, “What common cancer can YOU prevent through screening?” ACG has designed a newposter that you can easily download and print to display in your office, hand out to patients, and share via social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Download the poster. Shareable link for new poster: http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001xxrge9_FO6GW30qj5z0MXfUjEehcg771rkWs2xiDKeuJr5Aw3LQwTl_2n-EVJq02vuV5LHRtFif1VAfqOzPBZSLIJuGb671Hg4dg45YBIFQ=
ACG’s 2013 CRC Community Education Resource Kit
Access the CRC Community Education Toolkit containing a wealth of resources, key messages, tips and downloadable materials, including new web graphics for your use. To learn more about how you can access ACG web graphics for use on your practice’s web page, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leverage Social Media: Tweet, Like or Share
Support the College’s Colorectal Cancer Prevention Awareness efforts by using Twitter and by sharing links via Facebook or other social media channels. Access a list of suggested tweets in the resources section of the GI Circle. Follow the ACG on Twitter. Visit the ACG’s Facebook page.
Order Blue Star Pins, CRC Poster, Colonoscopy DVD, Patient Brochures
Show your support for Colorectal Cancer Awareness! Visit the ACG Store to order brochures, a patient education DVD, and a poster — all available at low cost to support your community education efforts. One FREE Blue Star lapel pin for ACG members, while supplies last, courtesy of Exact Sciences.
National Dress In Blue Day – Friday, March 1, 2013
Dress In Blue Day 2013 sponsored by Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) Join national patient advocacy groups in wearing blue on Friday, March 1 to demonstrate support and help raise awareness. Invite your staff and colleagues to participate. Visit the CCA resource page for FREE posters, logos, web banners, press release templates and more.
Family History “Family PLZ” Campaign
The College is again supporting the National Colorectal Cancer Round Table’s Family Plz Campaign in focusing attention on the importance of family history in colorectal cancer prevention. Access Family Plz to download outreach materials and key messages.
Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures
For more information on colorectal cancer, including state statistics on incidence and mortality, the American Cancer Society offers an excellent backgrounder, Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2013.
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