March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month: Getting screened could save your life

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Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the US, but many colon cancers can be prevented with regular testing. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – no better time to learn the facts about colon cancer and get tested. It could save your life.

The American Cancer Society recommends – if you are 50 or older – that you talk with your doctor about colon cancer screening. Only about 60% of adults of screening age are up-to-date on their colon cancer screening, and many have never been screened at all.

Screening can find colon cancer early, before symptoms develop, when it’s easier to treat and survival rates are more favorable. Some of the tests can help doctors find growths called polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer.

What’s encouraging is that fewer people have been dying from colon cancer over the past few decades. That’s due partly to improvements in screening. However, more than 50,000 deaths from colon cancer are expected this year, accounting for 9% of all cancer deaths.

Our goal: increase colon cancer screening rates

Half of all colon cancer deaths could be prevented, if people got tested regularly. That’s why the American Cancer Society, in partnership with several other organizations, has set a goal to increase colon cancer screening rates to 80% by 2018. Doing so could save more than 7,000 lives a year.

Dr. Richard Wender, the Society’s Chief Cancer Control Officer, said, “We have screening technologies that work and the capacity to apply these technologies. Our efforts can empower communities, patients, providers, community health centers, and health systems to develop the partnerships needed to deliver coordinated, quality colorectal cancer screening and follow up care.”

Achieving this goal will demand a coordinated nationwide effort with many partners and involve every aspect of the Society. Plans are in development to engage our base of grassroots volunteers and others to help achieve this audacious goal.

“By working together and collectively pushing harder, we will make greater progress, prevent more cancers, and save more lives,” Dr. Wender added.

For more information about colon cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org/colon.