Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Many Lives

Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2010 are:

  • 102, 900 new cases of colon cancer (49,470 in men and 53,430 in women)
  • 39,670 new cases of rectal cancer (22,620 in men and 17,050 in women)

Overall, the lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 19 (5.2%). This risk is slightly higher in men than in women. A number of other factors may also affect a person’s risk for developing colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in men and women when both sexes are combined. It was expected to cause more than 50,000 deaths in 2010.

The death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years. There are a number of likely reasons for this. One is that polyps, or growths, are being found by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers. Screening also allows more colorectal cancers to be found earlier, when the disease is easier to cure. In addition, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the last several years. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.

Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colorectal cancer. Screening is the process of looking for cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. From the time the first abnormal cells start to grow into polyps, it usually takes about 10 to 15 years for them to develop into colorectal cancer. Regular screening can, in many cases, prevent colorectal cancer altogether. Several tests are used to screen for colorectal cancer in people with an average risk of colorectal cancer. Ask your doctor which tests are available where you live and which options might be right for you.

People who have no identified risk factors (other than age) should begin regular screening at age 50. Those who have a family history or other risk factors for colorectal polyps or cancer should talk with their doctor about starting screening at a younger age and/or getting screened more frequently.

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. Employees in this program have access to tools and information that can help improve their overall physical and mental well-being. The program is free to both you and your employees as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!