Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March encourages screening

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time when people across the country are joining together to educate the public about this dangerous but highly preventable disease. Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States for men and women combined. This year 1,790 people in Colorado are expected to be diagnosed with colon cancer and 650 will die from the disease.

In order to save lives, organizations across the country have joined forces and committed to the 80% by 2018 initiative. This is a shared goal, led by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT®), to have 80 percent of adults aged 50 and older screened regularly for colon cancer by 2018. According to 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance data, Colorado’s screening rate stands at 64 percent.

Hundreds of organizations have committed to NCCRT’s initiative of 80% by 2018 as a way to substantially reduce colon cancer as a major public health problem, and increase screening rates. Colon cancer screening may detect cancer at an early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful, and in some cases, it can be prevented through the detection and removal of precancerous polyps. According to a 2015 study, achieving 80% by 2018 would prevent 203,000 colon cancer deaths by 2030.

“Colorado has been a leader in the area of prevention of colorectal cancer, but we have a lot of work to do to reach 80% by 2018,” said Andrea (Andi) Dwyer, co-director of the Colorado Colorectal Screening Program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and steering committee member of the NCCRT®. “With the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, thousands are now eligible for preventive screening, which also is covered by private insurance. March is a tremendous opportunity to share information that screening saves lives.

Preventing colon cancer or finding it early doesn’t have to be expensive. There are multiple screening options available, including some simple and affordable tests. To learn more, people are encouraged to talk to their health care provider.

In recognition of Colon Cancer Awareness Month, various activities will take place across Colorado, including the following:

  • Dress in Blue Day – Dress in Blue Day on March 4 is an opportunity for people to unite in supporting a world free of colon cancer.FINAL DIB2016
  • Buildings lit blue – The Denver City and County building will be lit in blue the first week in March in honor of Colon Cancer Awareness Month; The Daniels and Fisher Clock Tower will be lit in blue for the duration of March.
  • American Cancer Society expert Dr. Durado Brooks, managing director for cancer control intervention, will provide colon cancer screening workshops for health care professionals on March 2 and 3 in Loveland, Denver, and Colorado Springs. Anyone interested in attending these events can contact Jane Harris at harris@cancer.org.
  • Dress in Blue Ski-A-Thon – The Colon Cancer Alliance will host a special ski-a-thon at Granby Ranch to raise awareness and funds for colon cancer on March 4. For details email smartell@granbyranch.com
  • The American Cancer Society night with the Denver Nuggets takes place March 10 at 7 p.m. to highlight colon cancer awareness. Ticket purchases must be made by March 1 at nuggetstix.com/acs310 to secure a shirt and special seating. A portion of each ticket will benefit the American Cancer Society and the Colon Cancer Alliance.
  • Resolution – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network℠ (ACS CAN) is asking the Colorado General Assembly to pass a resolution on March 3 declaring March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
  • Denver Undy Run/Walk – This annual event to support colon cancer awareness will take place June 25 at City Park. For details go to UndyRunWalk.org

For more information on colon cancer, visit the American Cancer Society at jane.harris@cancer.org or 1-800-227-2345 or the Colon Cancer Alliance at ccalliance.org or 1-877-422-2030.

About the author: CU Cancer Center

Located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of Colorado Cancer Center is Colorado’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, a distinction recognizing its outstanding contributions to research, clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. CU Cancer Center is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network®, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers working to establish and deliver the gold standard in cancer clinical guidelines. CU Cancer Center is a consortium of more than 400 researchers and physicians at three state universities and six institutions, all working toward one goal: Translating science into life.

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