The first National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month was designated in March 2000. Since then, organizations throughout the country have dedicated March to increasing awareness of this disease and encouraging Americans to be screened. Here are some statistics and current information about colorectal cancer (CRC).
In 2014, the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable launched the “80% by 2018” initiative. Dozens of organizations have pledged to help achieve, by 2018, an 80% rate for regular CRC screening for adults aged 50 years and older. According to the first study to estimate the effects of the 80% rate, an additional 21,000 CRC deaths per year would be prevented by 2030.1
Guidelines have long recommended that screening for CRC should begin at age 50 years. However, a recent study found that a significantly higher proportion of minority groups develop the disease before age 50. CRC is diagnosed before age 50 in 11.9% of African Americans, 12% of Asians/Pacific Islanders, 15.4% of Hispanics, and 16.5% of American Indians/Alaska Natives compared with 6.7% in non-Hispanic whites. Researchers suggested earlier CRC screening and further studies to determine the causes and risk factors responsible for young-onset CRC among minority groups.2
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that almost 20% of CRC deaths (an estimated 14,000 deaths) in low-income communities in the United States could have been prevented with early screening. Data from 2008 through 2012 for people aged 50 to 74 years were used to compare CRC death rates in low-income counties with rates in high-income counties. Based on the differences in potential years of life lost—194,927 years in lower-income communities compared with 128,812 in high-income counties—low-income counties also experienced $6.4 billion in lost wages and productivity.3
As a second-year student at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Michelle Bernshteyn took advantage of a charitable program at the Melting Pot restaurant, setting dinner on February 11, 2016, as the event when $7 from each guest’s check went to the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation. Ms Bernshteyn is determined to raise awareness, as well as money, and has challenged her classmates to tell 3 family members or friends of screening age to get colonoscopies. Ms Bernshteyn has an uncle among the 1 million CRC survivors in the United States.4