According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among cancers that affect both sexes. Up to 60 percent of the deaths caused by colorectal cancer may be prevented if proper screening protocols are followed, according to the CDC, which makes increased awareness of screening guidelines crucial.
Colorectal cancer is generally caused by precancerous polyps that grow in the colon and/or rectum and can be identified during a routine colonoscopy. According to the American Cancer Society, it takes approximately 10 to 15 years for these polyps to grow into cancers. If polyps are successfully identified and removed within this period of time, colorectal cancer is often prevented.
Current screening guidelines for colorectal cancer set forth by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that men and women over the age of 50 receive a colonoscopy every 10 years, a high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test every year, and a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years. These screenings should begin at age 50 and continue until the person is 75 years old. If certain risk factors for colorectal cancer, such as a family history of the disease, are present, your physician may recommend more frequent testing.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In Chattanooga, residents have the opportunity to participate in the Colon Cancer Coalition’s annual Get Your Rear in Gear 5K Run/Walk, which is held to help raise awareness about colorectal cancer and the importance of colorectal cancer screenings. The event will be held on March 24 at Coolidge Park and will feature a 5K timed race, a Kids’ Fun Run and a 5K Fun Run/Walk. To register for the 5K or to receive more information about the organization or donation opportunities, visit the Get Your Rear in Gear event page.