To Your Health: Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Alicia Farmer
March 9, 2019

The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age. New Jersey's first African-American Member of Congress, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr., passed away from colorectal cancer seven years ago today. This nefarious deed went viral and the Colon Cancer Coalition whose role is to educate people about colorectal cancer was able to raise more than $11,000 for colon cancer awareness. While early screening methods such as colonoscopy and drugs for treating colorectal cancer are now available, scientists are studying ways in which food and nutrition may lower the risk of contracting the disease.

In 2013, Congressman Payne, Jr. led 146 of his House colleagues on a letter to President Obama requesting a proclamation designating March 2014 as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

The researchers reported on the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology that in northeast China, a decreased colorectal cancer risk was observed in both men and women, who have higher allium vegetables intake, which includes garlic, garlic stalks, leek, onion and spring onion. The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the local stage is 90 percent.

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While you may already be aware of the importance of colon cancer screenings, you may be among the large number of Americans who avoid screenings anyway. The idea of a colonoscopy may be a little uncomfortable, but the actual procedure is not, and the life-saving benefits are very real.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. If you are at high risk, you may need to begin screening earlier than the age of 50 or to continue at different intervals than is typical. One-quarter of adults between the ages of 50 and 75 have never been screened, and more than one-third of adults with health insurance are not up to date with their screenings, CDC stats show. Following this guideline can save your life. According to the American Cancer Society, once you begin to feel the symptoms of colorectal cancer, it's often very advanced and more hard to effectively treat.

"I think important preventative measures from a colon cancer standpoint are to pay attention to your body", said Dr. Lange. "It's one of the things you really can take control of".

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