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SafetyAlerts
February 28,  2002

Fewer Than Half of Those at Risk Get Life-Saving Screening For Colorectal Cancer
 

Cancer Research Foundation of America Issues Challenge to Boston Residents

(SafetyAlerts) - The Cancer Research Foundation of America (CRFA) is issuing the Colorectal Cancer Prevention Challenge to Boston Residents to mark the start of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. CRFA is challenging all Americans to discuss screening for colorectal cancer with their health care providers during the month of March. CRFA is also challenging health care providers to raise the issue of colorectal cancer screening with their patients. This challenge comes in the wake of research by the Cancer Research Foundation of America, which shows that more than 90 percent of people would get screened for colorectal cancer if their health care provider advised them to do so.

The survey found that fewer than 52 percent of Americans age 50 and over had been told by their health care provider to get a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to screen for precancerous polyps or colorectal cancer. However, when advised to get one of the tests by a health care provider, more than 90 percent complied. The older they were, the more likely they were to follow the recommendation. Individuals age 50 and over are at increased risk for colorectal cancer as well as those who have a family history of the disease.

"Colorectal cancer is a preventable disease. Here in Boston, and all across the country we are missing a life-saving opportunity because thousands of people who should be getting screened are not. Clearly, we need to do something about this. Health care providers need to recommend screening for colorectal cancer and patients need to ask about it," said Dr. Francis Farraye of the Boston Medical Center. "This year, our hospital will join forces with other Boston area organizations to call attention to colorectal cancer during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month."

In the Boston area, the Cancer Research Foundation of American is working with Boston Medical Center, The Wellness Community, Oncology Nursing Society, and Stop and Shop Pharmacy to provide free colorectal cancer screening during the first week of March. Fecal Occult Blood (FOBTs) tests will be distributed at participating Stop and Shop pharmacies, and will be later screened by Boston Medical Center laboratories.

CRFA's survey was conducted in support of the third annual National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which will be observed in March 2002. The Cancer Research Foundation of America, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable joined forces with 45 collaborating partner organizations to create National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to generate widespread awareness about the disease.

Despite the fact that it is highly preventable with routine testing, approximately 148,300 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed this year and 56,600 people will die from the disease. Most cases of the disease begin as non-cancerous polyps -- grape-like growths on the linings of the colon and rectum. Polyps can become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent colorectal cancer from ever occurring. Because there are often no symptoms related to polyps, it is important to be tested.

Colorectal cancer screening tests can also save lives by detecting cancerous polyps in the earliest, most curable stages of colorectal cancer. When discovered early, the disease is up to 90 percent curable. Health care providers recommend routine testing with one or more forms of screening: colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, fecal occult blood test, or double contrast barium enema.

More information about colorectal cancer and the month can be found at http://www.preventcancer.org/colorectal . The site includes two new initiatives: "Up Close and Personal: Celebrities Speak Out About Colorectal Cancer," provides a look into celebrities experiences with colorectal cancer, colorectal cancer screening, colorectal cancer education and prevention. A new "Colorectal Cancer Column" series addresses topics on colorectal cancer from prevention through treatment and support, with a new column written each month by experts year-round.

The Cancer Research Foundation of America is a national nonprofit health organization whose mission is the prevention and early detection of cancer through scientific research and education. Founded in 1985 by Carolyn Aldige, the organization's commitment to prevention is fueled by the fact that certain cancers are preventable through lifestyle changes and screening, and many cancers can be detected early when more easily treated, yet more than 553,000 Americans die from the diseases annually. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided $50 million in support of research, education and early detection.

The Cancer Research Foundation of America interviewed by phone 1089 adults aged 50 and above nationwide between October 12 and 19, 2001. The data were weighted to reflect the demographic make-up of the adult U.S. population. The survey has a margin of error plus or minus three percentage points.


Source: PRNewswire

 
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