Granholm Recognizes March As Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Contact: Beth Perrine (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

March 3, 2005

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed a proclamation today announcing March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to bring attention to this serious health issue that affects many Michigan citizens.

"Right now Michigan is ranked 36th in the nation for colorectal cancer deaths," said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. "This fact means that we have a lot of work to do, and the observation of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is a step in the right direction."

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Michigan, with only lung cancer taking the lives of more men and women. Most colorectal cancers can be traced back to a polyp, a fleshy growth on the inside of the colon. The longer a polyp goes undetected, the greater the chance that it will become cancerous.

It is estimated that in 2005, 1,870 Michigan men and women will die of colorectal cancer and 4,830 new cases will be diagnosed.

Everyone is at risk of developing colorectal cancer. The primary risk factor for colorectal cancer is increasing age, with more than 90 percent of cases being found in persons over the age of 50. A family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps also increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

While early colorectal cancer often may have no symptoms, sometimes symptoms do occur. Any noticeable changes in health, or questions regarding colon complications, should be immediately addressed with your health care provider. Only he or she can determine the cause of the symptoms.

There are two major steps, which can help to prevent colorectal cancer before it begins.

  • Step 1: Get Screened. Screening tests can find polyps and removing polyps early can prevent cancer. Early diagnosis can also result in more successful treatment.
  • Step 2: Live healthy, eat right and be active. Eating high fiber, low fat diets are very helpful as well as a diet filled with whole grains. Quitting smoking also helps, because smokers are at a higher risk of colorectal cancer. In the end, walk your 10,000 steps a day, because being active is being healthy.

For more information about colorectal cancer, please visit the colorectal information section on the MDCH website, www.michigan.gov/mdch.