March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
In recognition of March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, BJC Help for Your Health is encouraging employees to understand the risk factors for colorectal cancer. For the ninth year, employees who commit to colorectal cancer prevention have an opportunity to win home exercise equipment valued at $1,000.
Eligible employees must:
Learn more about colon cancer
- pledge to schedule or encourage a family member or friend to schedule a screening test in 2017, based on the American Cancer Society guidelines or the advice of their physician
- promote healthy nutrition and exercise in 2017
- complete an educational quiz about colorectal cancer
- turn in the completed pledge form by March 31
Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S., with about 140,000 people diagnosed each year, and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the U.S. Colorectal cancer refers to cancers in the colon or rectum. Most colorectal cancers begin as polyps, abnormal growths that may become cancers over a long period of time.
The good news is that individuals can take steps to prevent colon cancer by changing certain risk factors. Some changeable risk factors include not getting screened; being overweight; eating a diet high in red and processed meat; having low physical activity; drinking too much alcohol; smoking; and being low in certain nutrients.
Though colon cancer is preventable, there are a number of important risk factors that people can’t control, such as age, family history, being tall and having inflammatory bowel disease. Up to 5-6 percent of all colon cancers in the United States are caused by inherited colon cancer syndromes.
It’s important to note that 75 percent of patients with colon cancer have no symptoms, and 75 percent of patients with colorectal cancer have no family history. This means starting patient colon cancer screening at age 50 is very important. Several different colorectal cancer screening tests are used for detecting colon cancer, and they should be done at certain intervals.
The incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing in patients younger than 50. This age group represents about 10-12 percent of the total 140,000 cases/year. Alarmingly, cancers in the under-50 population are diagnosed at later stages and appear to be more aggressive tumor types, both of which have implications for prognosis and survival.
Overall, however, the death rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people per year) from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for more than 20 years. This can be due to several factors. One is that polyps are being found by screening and removed before they can grow into cancers. Screening also allows more colorectal cancers to be found earlier, when the disease is easier to cure. Also, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the past several years. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.
Sources: Siteman Cancer Center and American Cancer Society
Take the BJC Help for Your Health Colorectal Cancer Awareness Quiz to test your level of colorectal cancer knowledge.
BJC Employees: Print out the quiz, answer the questions and submit for a chance to win a piece of exercise equipment valued at $1,000.
BJC Employees: Take the quiz online below. (proceed to online quiz)