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The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Awareness

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. Here's why you should know more about it.

March 11, 2020 5 minute read

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Regular screenings are key to early detection and prevention and can make all the difference.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the umbrella term for cancers affecting the colon and rectum. Colon and rectal cancer account for 71 and 29 percent of colorectal diagnoses, respectively. Most CRCs start as polyps on the lining of the colon.

How common is colorectal cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S., and the New York Department of Health considers it one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in the state.

colorectal cancer at a glance

Estimates show that there will be approximately 148,000 new cases of colorectal cancer across the U.S. in 2020.

How likely am I to get colorectal cancer?

Independent of other risk factors, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 23 (4.4 percent) for men and 1 in 25 (4.1 percent) for women. However, several risk factors can increase the likelihood of diagnosis.

Risk factors:

  • Family history
    • Almost 1 in 3 people who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer have other family members who have also had it.
  • Diet and exercise
  • Smoking history
  • Age
    • While colorectal cancer is most common in individuals over 50 and risk increases with age, it’s becoming more common in people under 50, making it the second most common cancer in both men and women among that group.

 

What is the survival rate?

Between 2012-2016, 259,662 people in the U.S. died of colorectal cancer. It’s the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control. In New York state, it’s the second leading cause of cancer-related death.

Survival rates are largely dependent on what stage at which the cancer is caught, with early detection being the best indicator of the likelihood of survival. Here’s how they break down:

COLON CANCER:

SEER Stage

5-year survival rate

Localized (Stages 0 & 1)

90%

Regional (Stages 2 & 3)

71%

Distant (Stage 4)

14%

All SEER stages combined

63%

 

RECTAL CANCER:

SEER Stage

5-year survival rate

Localized (Stages 0 & 1)

89%

Regional (Stages 2 & 3)

71%

Distant (Stage 4)

15%

All SEER stages combined

67%

 

What can I do to prevent colorectal cancer?

Early detection is essential for increasing survival rates, as it could prevent 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths. Experts recommend that all adults over the age of 45 get regular screenings, while individuals with first-degree family members who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer should start screenings 10 years earlier. Colonoscopy is the gold standard for finding and removing the polyps that turn into colorectal cancer.

 

Download our infographic

 

SOURCES:

United States colorectal cancer statistics: https://gis.cdc.gov/Cancer/USCS/DataViz.html

New York state colorectal cancer statistics: https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/cntymaps/cntymaps.pdf

Nassau County colorectal cancer statistics: https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/vol1/v1cnassau.htm

Colorectal cancer in New York state: https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/abouts/colorectal.htm

Key statistics for colorectal cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

About colorectal cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/what-is-colorectal-cancer.html

Risk factors for colorectal cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html

Relative survival trends in colorectal cancer: https://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/JCO.2018.36.4_suppl.587

Colorectal incidence and mortality in under-50 population: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5564445/

Early diagnosis improves survival in colorectal cancer: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22988701

Facts about colorectal cancer: https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/colorectal-cancer/facts-stats/

Stages of colorectal cancer: https://www.ligastrohealth.com/blog/about-the-5-stages-of-colon-cancer

Colon cancer detection and colonoscopies: https://www.ligastrohealth.com/colon-cancer/