Press Release from the Tennessee Department of Health, March 11, 2010:
Colorectal Cancer Often Preventable with Routine Testing
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Governor Phil Bredesen has declared March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in Tennessee. As part of the state’s participation in this annual health observance, the Department of Health and the Tennessee Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition encourage all Tennesseans over the age of 50 to get screened for colorectal cancer. Approximately 90 percent of colorectal cancer cases occur in people age 50 or older.
“Studies indicate as many as 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if all men and women 50 years of age or older were screened routinely,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “We urge Tennesseans to make these important tests part of their routine medical care, and encourage older relatives to get screened.”
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. In 2006, the most recent year for which national data are available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute reported that at least 136,794 people in the United States were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 53,196 people died from it. In Tennessee in 2008, colorectal cancer was the third leading cause of cancer death, claiming 1,237 lives. That number is divided almost equally between men and women.
In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps, or abnormal growths, in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find these polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. The tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
Men and women who have no symptoms or relevant risk factors should begin screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, then continue getting screened at regular intervals. However, testing may be needed earlier or more often for individuals who have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, or have a close relative with any of these conditions. Other risk factors for colorectal cancer include tobacco use, lack of physical activity and high-fat diet. Race is also a risk factor, as African Americans are less likely to have colorectal cancer diagnosed in the earliest and most treatable stages.
Individuals are encouraged to talk with their health care provider about the risk for colorectal cancer to determine the best screening tests and schedule. Several tests are available to screen for colorectal cancer. Some are used alone, while others are used in combination with each other. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends these screening tests:
? Colonoscopy (every 10 years)
? High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (every year)
? Flexible sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years)
The Tennessee Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition, a collaboration led by the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was formed in June 2001 to address and reduce the burden of cancer on the state of Tennessee. In 2005, TCCCC launched a state cancer plan to achieve the goal of preventing and reducing the rate of cancer in Tennessee. With about 250 volunteers, TCCCC has established six regional coalitions throughout the state, but needs additional volunteers to combat colorectal and other cancers.
For more information on Tennessee’s cancer plan and the Tennessee Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, please visit http://health.state.tn.us/CCCP/index.htm or call TCCCP at 1-800-547-3558. Additional information regarding the CDC’s national colorectal cancer prevention programs is available online at www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/index.htm.