This cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month.

During this month, it’s important to note that colorectal cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death in men and women. Only lung cancer takes more lives.

However, one of the true success stories in modern medicine is the dramatic decline in the incidence and death rates associated with colorectal cancer. These rates have declined by more than 40% from peaks in the 1980s.

The majority of this impact derives from the improved acceptance and utilization of screening tests for colorectal cancer. This has translated into both prevention of colorectal cancer and detection at earlier stages when the chances of cure are much higher.

Unfortunately, only 70% of Americans are up to date on colorectal cancer screening. That leaves a significant number of people at higher risk for this deadly disease. With that said, it is critical to discuss with your primary care provider or gastroenterologist how you can best protect yourself from developing colon cancer.

That discussion should focus on two key questions. When should I start screening for colorectal cancer? And what test is best for prevention of colorectal cancer? The answer to the first question has changed in the last year.

Although overall colorectal cancer diagnoses are down, it has actually increased for people under 50. This change has prompted a decrease in the age to start screening to 45 years and most government and commercial payors will now cover screening tests at that age.

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