This Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, let’s celebrate the many new and exciting advancements in the battle against colorectal cancer, the third-deadliest cancer in the U.S. For colorectal cancer specifically and cancer in general, cancer rates are declining and late-stage cancer survival rates are steadily increasing. Recent advancements in surgical techniques include “minimally invasive surgery” which can remove polyps or cancerous tissue with less pain and shorter recovery time. Targeted therapy has been combined with or used instead of chemotherapy in recent years. Unlike chemotherapy, which kills cancer cells as well as the healthy cells surrounding them, targeted therapy only kills cancerous cells. Vaccines to prevent colorectal cancer are currently in clinical trials.
While these advances in preventing and treating colorectal cancer offer glimmers of hope, there is still much to be done. Unfortunately, over the past thirty years, the rate of colorectal cancer has doubled in adults under 50. Research indicates that obesity, sedentary behavior, poor diet, and other environmental factors contribute to this dramatic increase. Many younger adults are years away from their first colonoscopy, which hinders early detection and treatment for those who will eventually be diagnosed. A study by the American Cancer Society found that adults under 55 are 58% more likely than older adults to be diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer.
To help reduce the impact of this highly preventable disease, all Americans should begin colorectal cancer screenings (colonoscopy) at the age of 45, especially African Americans and those with a high risk for colorectal cancer. This Colorectal Cancer Month, AAHP strongly encourages you to make sure your screenings are up to date and hopes you spread the word about colorectal cancer screenings to those around you.