Michigan Continues to Support the Fight Against Cancer by Declaring March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

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

March 16, 2010

Every year since 2000, the nation has observed March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This year, Michigan is again demonstrating its support of this cause by raising public awareness that colorectal cancer is largely preventable, beatable, and treatable.

Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death in our state, with 898 men and 914 women dying of the disease in 2007. Michigan ranks 27th in the nation in colorectal cancer deaths.

The good news is that screening tests can find colorectal cancer early, when the chance of being cured is more likely. "Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps-abnormal growths in the colon or rectum-so that they can be removed before turning into cancer," said Michigan Department of Community Health Director Janet Olszewski. "Colorectal cancer is one of the most detectable and, if found early enough, most treatable forms of cancer."  The Michigan Cancer Consortium (MCC) recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women of average risk starting at age 50.

Everyone is at risk of developing colorectal cancer. Increasing age is the main risk factor for colorectal cancer, with more than 90% of cases being found in persons over the age of 50. Family history of colon cancer or pre-cancerous polyps also increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Other risk factors include:

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

- Having an Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish background

- A diet high in animal fats or low in fiber

- Not being physical active

- Obesity

- Diabetes

- Smoking

- Heavy use of alcohol

You can help prevent colorectal cancer by following these steps:

1. Get Screened

- Talk to your health care provider about what screening test is right for you.

2. Make Healthy Choices Every Day

- Exercise regularly and maintain a health weight

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

- Avoid smoking

- Avoid drinking excessively To learn more about colorectal cancer, visit the MCC website at www.michigancancer.org.