March is observed as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. This month is dedicated to activities that will increase awareness about colorectal cancer and its prevention.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. It is estimated that about 135,000 Americans will be diagnosed with this disease and that nearly 50,000 will die from CRC in 2015.
March was officially dedicated as "National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month" in February, 2000 by President Clinton. Since then, this event has grown to become a significant initiative of colon cancer community where thousands of patients, survivors, caregivers and healthcare centers throughout the nation join hands to generate awareness about this debilitating disease by wearing blue, holding fundraising and education events, talking to friends and family about screening, and much more.
In 2014, the American Cancer Society and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) launched the "80% by 2018" campaign, in which these organizations will work alongside several others to achieve the goal of getting 80% of people screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.
Reports suggest that CRC mostly affects people aged 50 years and above. The lifetime risk of developing this condition is 1 in 20 (5%), and that this is somewhat lower in women than men. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is a risk factor for colon cancer and many other cancers as well. Several lifestyle-related factors have been linked to colorectal cancer. Genetic factors, age and lifestyle related factors such as smoking, diet, obesity, low physical activity and alcohol use are also linked to colorectal cancer.
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is a perfect platform to make people understand the risk factors associated with this disease and take steps to reduce these risks. People age 50 and above need to undergo regular screening as early detection of symptoms facilitate effective treatment. While exercise plays a dramatic role in preventing cancer of the colon and rectum, studies have shown that exercise and a healthy diet for cancer patients can also keep cancer from recurring. An ideal option for those at risk or cancer survivors could be to enroll in the exercise, weight loss and smoking cessation programs that professional multi-specialty healthcare centers offer.