National Colo-rectal Cancer Awareness Month

National Colo-rectal Cancer Awareness Month

Although Colo-rectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer when men and women are combined, it is the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colo-rectal cancer affects people across all racial and ethnic groups, but is most often found in those over 50.

It is one of the deadliest cancers if not detected – but one of the most treatable if detected early! More people need to be screened. If everyone over 50 were screened regularly, six out of 10 deaths could be prevented. Unfortunately only about 60% of adults of 50+ are up-to-date with their colon cancer screening, and many have never been screened at all! Today one in three people over 50 have NEVER been screened.

As many remember, in 1998 Katie Couric’s husband, Jay Monahan, was diagnosed then died only nine months later in a very public manner. Katie used her celebrity status to raise awareness about the disease and its prevention. In 2001 she had her colonoscopy broadcast live on the Today Show. This led to a 20% spike in colonoscopies and widespread acceptance of the procedure. She continues to be a crusader for awareness of and screening for colon cancer. But more education is needed.

 

Reasons why is Colo-rectal cancer screening important:

• Screening for Colo-rectal cancer is recommended to begin at age 50 – earlier for African Americans and other ethnic groups, as well as for individuals with a family history.
• Screening through a colonoscopy can detect and remove polyps before they become cancer, preventing the disease from occurring.
• There is a 90% five year survival rate when Colo-rectal cancer is caught in early (localized) stages, but only 10% when it is diagnosed in late stages.
• Only 40% of patients nationwide are diagnosed with early stage disease.
• One in seven patients colon cancer patients are diagnosed before the recommended screening age of 50.

 

What One Can Do

• If you’re aged 50 to 75, get screened for Colo-rectal cancer regularly. Screening tests help prevent Colo-rectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) so they can be removed. Screening also finds this cancer early, when treatment can be most effective.
• Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which may play a role in cancer prevention. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables so that you get an array of vitamins and nutrients.
• Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
• Stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit that may work for you.
• Exercise most days of the week. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly and build up gradually to 30 minutes. Also, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
• Maintain a healthy weight. If you are at a healthy weight, work to maintain your weight by combining a healthy diet with daily exercise. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy ways to achieve your goal. Aim to lose weight slowly by increasing the amount of exercise you get and reducing the number of calories you eat.

 

Colon cancer ravages its victims and is devastating for the family. The more people who take the above action will give themselves and their families a brighter tomorrow.