Colon Cancer Screening Saves Lives, But Many People Still Don’t Get Screened

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The following content is provided by the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA).

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By Andrew Spiegel, Esquire
Chief Executive Officer, Colon Cancer Alliance

One in three people 50 years or older has not been screened for colon cancer, yet screening could help save their lives. This statistic is just one of the troubling findings of a national study by the Colon Cancer Alliance, the leading national patient advocacy organization dedicated to increasing screening rates and survivorship, and Quest Diagnostics, a leading diagnostic testing company. The two organizations recently teamed up to uncover the barriers that prevent people from being tested for colon cancer (also known as colorectal cancer), the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the U.S.

Screening by colonoscopy, fecal immunochemical tests and other methods help identify colon cancer in early stages when it is still highly treatable. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends screening for every man and woman of average risk, beginning at age 50. African Americans, smokers and anyone who has a family history or other risk factors should be tested even earlier. Yet, the Colon Cancer Alliance study found that many people 50 and over are not being screened. Moreover, the barriers to screening ranged from the lack of recommendation for screening by a healthcare professional to time and cost constraints. The study also suggested that fear of the bowel preparation, side effects and anesthesia typically associated with colonoscopy are additional barriers.

“Any death from colon cancer due to a failure to screen is a tragedy that could have been prevented,” said Andrew Spiegel, chief executive officer of the Colon Cancer Alliance. “I encourage people to talk to their health care providers about the importance of colon cancer screening, their risk factors for colon cancer, and the different screening tests available. With increased screening rates, deaths from colon cancer may one day be a thing of the past.”

Colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in America, and worldwide. About 50,000 Americans and over 600,000 people worldwide die each year from what is a very preventable disease. The Colon Cancer Alliance recently partnered with its European equivalent, EuropaColon to form an international colon cancer advocacy organization, Global Colon Cancer Alliance. The goal of the Global organization is to teach people worldwide how to advocate for colon cancer screening programs and share some of the successes learned in the US and Europe.

Colon cancer is the most preventable major cancer through screening. There are no excuses for not undergoing a simple screening test to prevent a very deadly disease which takes the life of an American every 9 minutes. We encourage all to talk to their doctor about whether a colon cancer screening test is appropriate for them. 1 in 19 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer, but you have the power to change that by starting a simple conversation with your family and friends and making sure you’re taking care of YOU. But I hope you won’t stop there. If you’d like to join the fight against this disease, the Colon Cancer Alliance has a multitude of volunteer opportunities. Please visit www.ccalliance.org to find out how you can help.

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Andrew Spiegel is the Chief Executive Officer of the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA), the leading national patient advocacy organization dedicated to increasing screening rates and survivorship. The CCA provides hope and support to patients and their families, while saving lives through screening, access, awareness, advocacy and research.

To learn more, visit www.ccalliance.org.

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