March 2020 Population Health Topic

MARCH IS COLORECTAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Statistics and risk factors

Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer (cancer that starts in the colon or rectum) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates 104,610 new cases of colon cancer and 43,340 new cases of rectal cancer in 2020.  It is expected that 53,200 people will die from this disease this year.

On average, the lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about 1 in 23 (4.4%)  for men and 1 in 25 for women (4.1%).

Colorectal cancer survival rates

Since the mid-1980s, the colorectal cancer survival rate has been increasing, due in part to increased awareness and screening. By finding polyps and cancer in the earlier stages, it is easiest to treat. Improved treatment options have also contributed to a rise in survival rates.

Survival Rates for colon cancer

  • The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the local stage is 90%.
  • The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the regional stage is 71%.
  • The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the distant stage is 14%.

Survival Rates for rectal cancer

  • The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the local stage is 89%.
  • The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the regional stage is 71%.
  • The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the distant stage is 15%.

Colorectal cancer and ethnicity and race

  • African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the US. The reasons for this are not fully understood.
  • Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have one of the highest colorectal cancer risks of any ethnic group in the world.
  • Risk increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people who are 50 years old or older

These statistics are compiled from the American Cancer Society’s 2017 Cancer Facts & Figures and Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2017-2019.

How can Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month make a difference?

We can use this month to raise awareness about colorectal cancer and take action toward prevention. Communities, organizations, families, and individuals can get involved and spread the word.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Encourage people over 50 to get screened.
  • What are some of the pros and cons of these screening tests?
  • Please see  this interactive tool for patients to decide which colorectal cancer screening test they prefer:
  • Encourage families to eat healthy and get active together – physical activity may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Encourage patients to quit smoking.
  • For more information please review this comprehensive Facts & Figures document by the American Cancer Society.

As your Health Coach I can talk to patients about the importance of screenings and help them navigate the system through referrals, and scheduling appointments.

Lucia Kmiec
NEPHO Health Coach
978-880-2318
lucia.kmiec@lahey.org