Michigan Observes March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Contact: James McCurtis, Jr. (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

March 10, 2008

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is proud to observe March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in a national effort to raise public awareness about the disease.

Colorectal cancer is the number two cancer killer among men and women in Michigan, second only to lung cancer. During 2005, 936 men and 993 women in Michigan died of colorectal cancer. Although many Michigan citizens are dying from colorectal cancer, this disease is treatable if detected early.

"Screening for colorectal cancer is extremely important because early detection of the disease saves lives," said MDCH Director Janet Olszewski. "We strongly recommend getting screened because finding and removing precancerous polyps - or growths - before they become cancerous, is very effective in preventing the disease."

Everyone is at risk of developing colorectal cancer, also called colon or bowel cancer. The primary risk factor for the disease is increasing age. The Michigan Cancer Consortium (MCC) recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women of average risk starting at age 50. Other risk factors include:

- A personal history of colon cancer, pre-cancerous colon polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease;

- A family history of colorectal cancer or pre-cancerous colon polyps; - Being Jewish of Eastern European descent;

- A diet high in animal fats or low in fiber;

- Not being physically active;

- Obesity;

- Having diabetes;

- Smoking; and

- Heavy use of alcohol

Colorectal Cancer Prevention

You can help prevent colorectal cancer by following these steps:

-Get regular screening tests;

-Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight;

-Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and

-Don't smoke and don't drink alcohol excessively

For more information, visit the MCC Web site at www.michigancancer.org to learn more about colorectal cancer and view the consortium's colorectal cancer screening recommendations.