American Cancer Society urges colorectal screening

American Cancer Society urges colorectal screening Colorectal cancer (commonly referred to as colon cancer) is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, claiming more lives than either breast or prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, 490 people in South Dakota will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year, and 190 will die.

Yet, there's a belief among some women that colon cancer only affects men. Unfortunately, both men and women are at risk for colon cancer. African Americans experience higher death rates from colon cancer than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States and are more likely to be diagnosed when the disease is at an advanced stage.

During March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the American Cancer Society encourages men and women to discuss their colon cancer risk with their doctor.

"Colon cancer doesn't have to be deadly," says Ralph B. Vance, M.D., F.A.C.P., national volunteer president of the American Cancer Society. "While many Americans resist getting screened for the disease, reliable testing options currently exist to find and remove precancerous colon polyps before they develop into a serious health problem � if only people would use them."

Many Americans don't know that colon cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Studies show colon cancer early detection and treatment can reduce deaths from this disease, yet only 38 percent of colon cancers are detected in the earliest and most treatable stage.

Nationally, people whose colon cancers are found at an early stage have a five-year survival rate of 90 percent. For colon cancers found at a later, more advanced stage, the five-year survival rate drops to less than 10 percent.

"Women are typically the primary healthcare decision-makers for the whole family; we want them to pay as much attention to their own health as they do for their loved ones," said Durado D. Brooks, M.D., M.P.H., director of colon cancer programs for the American Cancer Society. "Knowing their risk for colon cancer and getting tested is an important step they can take for themselves and their families."

During March, the American Cancer Society is extending its successful colon cancer awareness campaign to boost colon cancer testing rates and eliminate confusion associated with the disease. The campaign, developed with the Ad Council, features Polyp Man¨ � a pesky character in a conspicuous red suit who grabs viewers' attention to get across the simple message: Colon cancer: Get the test. Get the polyp. Get the cure.

Personal risk for colon cancer varies, so your doctor can help you make informed decisions about when to begin testing and the most appropriate testing method for you. Factors associated with increased risk for colon cancer, as well as information on prevention, early detection, and treatment of the disease, can be found on the American Cancer Society's Web site at or by calling the Society at 1-800-ACS-2345.

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 14 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit

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