March was officially established as National Colon Cancer Awareness Month in 2000, and 16 years later, the event has grown to be a rallying point for the colon cancer community. Thousands of members, including patients, caregivers, survivors, and advocates, join forces nationwide to spread awareness and raise funds for the disease.
The Colon Cancer Alliance, one of the most important organizations for the community, is encouraging everyone who would like to get involved to help with the ultimate goal: to take colon cancer out of the top three deadliest cancers list. Colon cancer is the third cancer most frequently diagnosed and ranks second among the leading causes of cancer death in men and women in the United States. Estimates are that in 2016 alone, 130,000 U.S. citizens will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 50,000 will die from the condition.
But colon cancer also happens to be one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer when diagnosed early, if important facts on the relevance of colon cancer screening are kept in mind:
- Currently, only two in three adults who need screening actually have it done, mainly because colon cancer shows no symptoms until it’s already in an advanced state. But timely screening can find polyps before they become cancerous.
- From age 50 on, everyone should get screened, despite where you stand in the risk spectrum. But your race, ethnicity and family history all factor in, too – your doctor will know at what age you should start getting screened.
- The incidence of colon cancer in adults younger than 50 has been increasing due to a lack of awareness for the importance of early screening and a focus on older groups, Again, ask your doctor what’s best for you.
- There are more than 1 million colon cancer survivors in the U.S., and since the 1980s, colon cancer survival rates have been improving, partly due to screenings and partly due to better treatments.
Here’s how to get involved to support the National Colon Cancer Awareness Month:
- Wear something blue on March 4 to show support for those fighting the battle.
- Dress in Blue Day started with Ana Mitchell, the founder of Colon Cancer STARS and a Colon Cancer Alliance volunteer, when she was battling stage 4 colon cancer and had already lost her father and a friend to the disease. The suggestion to adopt the Dress in Blue concept was brought to the Colon Cancer Alliance in 2009, which the organization then turned into an awareness day event.
- Get informed about colon cancer facts to become a symbol of hope for those who have questions. Spread the word to family and friends about the importance of screening and screening options that are now available.
- Go a step further and hold your own fundraising or education event.
- Register for the Colon Cancer Alliance’s annual fundraising events, the Undy Run/Walk and Scope It Out. Throughout every year, the alliance hosts 25 fundraising events in major U.S. cities.
“Colon cancer is often a difficult disease for people to talk about. National Colon Cancer Awareness Month provides the Colon Cancer Alliance a greater opportunity to create a dialogue about this deadly disease and decrease the barriers to screening,” Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colon Cancer Alliance, said in a press release.