March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This national health observance aims to increase public awareness about the importance of regular screenings for people 50 years old or older to reduce their risk for colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Regular screening is the key to preventing colorectal cancer.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action campaign marks its 20th anniversary in 2019. Since its beginning in 1999, this public awareness campaign informs people 50 or older about the importance of having regular colorectal cancer screening tests.
Screening helps prevent colorectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer early, when treatment can be very effective. Screening is recommended to begin at age 50 because about 90% of new colorectal cancer cases occur in people who are 50 or older. However, you may need to be tested earlier than 50 or more often than other people if:
- You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
- You have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
- You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
If you think you are at increased risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor about when to begin screening, how often you should be screened, and which test is right for you.
For more information, please see Screen for Life’s Colorectal Cancer Screening fact sheet and visit https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/.