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
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
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
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.