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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  I can speak first-hand about the horror of this disease.  Colon cancer, slowly and painfully, killed my father at the age of forty-nine.  Everyone needs to learn the facts about colon cancer and get tested.

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the USA.  The good news is that colon cancer can be beaten if it is caught at an early stage.  The American Cancer Society recommends people over the age of fifty have a colonoscopy examination.  Unfortunately, only about 60 percent of the fifty years plus population are up-to-date on their colon cancer screening, and many have never been screened at all.  If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you need to get tested at an earlier age.

A worrisome trend is a rise in colorectal cancers in young people.  Take the time to read the attached article by Roni Caryn Rabin in the February 28, 2017 edition of The New York Times.  Doctors are not certain why more 20 and 30 year olds are developing these cancers, but we need to be aware that this disease is no longer just an older adult issue.

Half of all colon cancer deaths could be prevented if people got tested regularly. That’s why the American Cancer Society, in partnership with several other organizations, has set a goal to increase colon cancer screening rates to 80 percent by 2018.  This could save more than 7,000 lives a year.

More than 50,000 deaths from colon cancer are expected this year.  That makes up 9 percent of all cancer deaths in the USA.  Proactive screening for colorectal cancer works.  We need to get more people involved.

Read the NY Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/well/live/colon-and-rectal-cancers-rising-in-young-people.html?_r=0

-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS