Preventable, Treatable, Beatable is the theme for the 2013 Kansas Colorectal Cancer Awareness Campaign. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Kansas Cancer Partnership (KCP), American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Kansas Association of Gastroenterologists (KAGI) are working together to promote awareness and screening activities across Kansas.
Each year, on average, nearly 1,400 colorectal cancers are diagnosed among Kansas residents and more than 500 Kansans die of the disease. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among both males and females. According to the National Cancer Institute, the lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer is about one in 20.
“Colorectal cancer can actually be eliminated if detected early, before cancerous polyps have a chance to grow and spread,” said Dr. Robert Moser, MD, Secretary of KDHE. “When found early, the treatment of colorectal cancer can be very effective.”
The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age. Nine out of 10 new cases are diagnosed in individuals age 50 or older in the U.S. Race can also be a factor. In Kansas more African-Americans die from the disease than whites. According to Shekhar Challa, MD, member of KAGI, colon cancer screening is recommended for Kansans who:
- Are 50 or older,
- Are African American and 45 or older,
- Have a family history of polyps or colon or rectal cancer, or
- Have a history of cancer or polyps.
Several screening methods are available for colorectal cancer screening, including the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. Screening is covered by Medicare and most health insurance plans.
Screening rates are increasing nationwide; however, studies show screening rates are lower among racial and ethnic minorities compared to whites, and among those without health insurance, with low income and with less than a high school education.
“Among Kansans aged 50-75 years old, only 61% meet current federal guidelines for colorectal cancer screening,” said Moser. “We encourage all Kansans to talk with their health care provider about what screening is appropriate for them.”
Age and family history are risk factors that cannot be changed, but several lifestyle-related factors have been linked to colorectal cancer. The links between diet, weight, exercise and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer. Factors shown to increase a person’s risk of colorectal cancer include a diet that is high in red meats and processed meats, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use and type 2 diabetes.
Call the ACS toll free number, 1-800-ACS-2345 (227-2345), for more information about colorectal cancer. To find a KAGI screening facility in Kansas, visit www.StopColonCancerNow.com/Kansas. For other Kansas cancer information and resources, visit www.cancerkansas.org.