March is widely recognized worldwide as Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. Several advocacy groups and professional organizations recognize Colorectal Cancer Awareness month by promoting screening for eligible individuals and working to increase awareness. Here, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, an advocacy organization, presents 10 facts about colorectal cancer.
1) In 2023, an estimated 153,020 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States, and an estimated 52,550 will die—making this disease the second-leading cause of cancer mortality.
2) The average lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 24, and age is the biggest risk factor. Most cases are diagnosed in people older than age 50.
3) Unlike many cancers, colorectal cancer is highly preventable with screening. With early detection, it is highly treatable. Localized colorectal cancer has a 91% survival rate with treatment.
4) The most common symptom of colorectal cancer is no symptom. When symptoms are present, they include blood in or on the stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, and unexplained weight loss.
5) Black/African Americans have the highest mortality rate and second-highest incidence rate of colorectal cancer in the United States. Black Americans are both 35% more likely to die of colorectal cancer and 20% more likely to develop it than non-Hispanic Whites.
6) The incidence rate of young-onset colorectal cancer is rising. In people younger than age 50, the incidence rate is increasing by 1.5% every year. According to the latest data, colorectal cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men between the ages of 20 and 49.
7) Colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 45. Screening is the number-one way to prevent colorectal cancer. Still, one-third of eligible adults are not getting screened. In late 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 68% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if all eligible people were screened. Members of the public can get a free screening recommendation based on personal risk factors at quiz.getscreened.org.
8) People who have a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, offspring) with colorectal cancer have two to three times the risk of developing the disease. They should speak to a doctor about getting screened earlier than normal.
9) Simple ways to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer include eating healthy, not smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting red meat intake, and adding calcium and vitamin D to your diet.
10) There are more than 1.5 million colorectal cancer survivors in the United States.
For more information about the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, visit calliance.org.