Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S., with about 143,000 new patients diagnosed last year. But thanks to increased awareness about screenings, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years.
Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH
“For the most part, colorectal cancer is a curable and preventable disease,” says Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, clinical director of the Dana-Farber Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center. “We have very good data that shows screening prevents disease and saves lives.”
With March marking Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, here are the answers to some key questions about the disease:
by Richard Saltus
Colonoscopy exams get a bad rap.
Even though the exam is brief and painless, many people fear and avoid them. Roughly 40 percent of Americans for whom they are recommended are not getting colonoscopies.
Yet colonoscopy is one of the most effective of all cancer prevention methods. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 142,820 diagnoses of colorectal cancer in 2013 and 50,830 people will die of the disease. As many as 60 percent of colon cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone 50 years old or above underwent colonoscopies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).