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March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month

by Kimberly Dinsdale, American Cancer Society, Sr. Consultant Media Relations

Posted on March 14, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 1:40 PM

Join the American Cancer Society this month as we celebrate National Colon Cancer Awareness month and kick off a nationwide campaign to ensure more people are aware of the lifesaving potential of colon cancer screenings. According to the Society, colorectal cancer will kill an estimated 50,310 people in the U.S. in 2014, including 970 Washington residents.

Colorectal cancer is one of only a handful of cancers for which screening is proven to save lives, both by finding and removing polyps before they turn cancerous and by finding cancers early, when treatment is most likely to be successful.

During March, the Society is highlighting the need to do more to save lives from the nation’s third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women by urging patients and their doctors to talk about the importance of colorectal cancer screening.

More than 1 in 3 adults aged 50 and older are not being screened as recommended for colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that most people begin regular screening at age 50. People at higher risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, may need to start screening earlier.

The Society recommends the following colorectal cancer screening tests:

  • Tests that detect precancerous polyps and cancer:
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years; or
    • Colonoscopy every 10 years; or
    • Double contrast barium enema (DCBE) every five years; or
    • CT colonography (CTC) every five years.
  • Tests that primarily detect cancer:
    • Yearly guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) with high test sensitivity for cancer (older versions of the Fecal Occult Blood Test should not be used to test for colorectal cancer); or
    • Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT) with high test sensitivity for cancer; or
    • Stool DNA test (sDNA).

Tests that detect precancerous polyps allow doctors to remove the polyps and potentially prevent cancer altogether. And while cancers detected at the earliest stage have a five-year survival rate of 90 percent, only 40 percent of colon cancers are currently detected at this stage, partly because too few people are screened.

Join us in helping to create awareness of colon cancer this month and beyond, and help those you care about be made aware of the lifesaving screenings that are available. Let’s turn the estimated 970 deaths from colon cancer in the state of Washington in 2014 into 970 lives saved.