Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Health Commissioner Dr. Alicia Pointer are recognizing March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and they encourage residents to have age-appropriate colorectal cancer screenings as directed by their healthcare providers.
“Proper screening for colorectal cancer and other cancers can save lives,” Neuhaus said. “There are several screening options to detect colorectal cancer early on, including simple take-home tests. Colonoscopies are the best way to detect colorectal cancer early and, according to the American Cancer Society, a colonoscopy at age 50 can significantly lower the risk of advanced colorectal cancer and death.”
Since its inception in 2000, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month has become a rallying point in the fight against colon cancer. Thousands of patients, survivors, caregivers, and advocates join to spread colon cancer awareness by wearing blue, holding fundraising and education events, and talking to friends and family about screening. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S. among cancers that affect men and women.
Through colorectal cancer screening, doctors can detect and remove hidden growths (polyps) in the colon, before they become cancerous.
“There are several tests available to screen for colon cancer including stool tests and colonoscopy. Talk to your doctor about which one is a good fit for you. No matter what, it is important to get screened,” Pointer said. “Early detection can substantially improve your outcome when battling this disease.”
Utilizing the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), the County’s Health Department Division of Community Health Outreach has incorporated a screening component to their worksite wellness programs. The division will collaborate with worksites to help them develop policies, systems and environmental approaches to increase access to multiple types of cancer screenings, including allowing time for employees to get appropriate screenings.
The American Cancer Society notes that the colorectal cancer death rate in this country could be cut in half if Americans followed recommended screening guidelines. Last year alone, more than 50,000 people died of colorectal cancer in the U.S. Almost 23 million Americans between 50 and 75 years old are not getting tested for colorectal cancer as recommended. Colorectal cancer is most often found among people 50 years or older but can occur at any age.
For more information about colorectal cancer screening, log onto www.cancer.org/colon or contact the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345.