What is CRC?

Colorectal Cancer—commonly called colon cancer—is cancer of the colon (the large bowel or large intestine) or the rectum. Colorectal cancer may begin as noncancerous polyps, which are grape-like growths on the lining of the colon and rectum. For reasons that are not fully understood, these polyps may become cancerous.

Risk of Developing CRC

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20 (5%), and it is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for U.S. men and women combined. Recent ACS statistics estimate 142,000 new cases of colorectal cancers will be diagnosed annually, with the disease claiming more than 50,000 American lives each year.1

Early Detection

For the past 20 years, the death rate from colorectal cancer for both men and women has been dropping. The American Cancer Society attributes this drop to several likely reasons. One reason is that screening is allowing many polyps to be detected and removed before they can develop into cancers. Another reason is that cancers are being caught earlier when the disease is easier to cure. And finally, improved treatments for colorectal cancers have helped boost survivor rates. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of the disease in the United States.

Screening Guidlines

Beginning at age 50, men and women should be screened for colorectal cancer. If you have a personal or family history of cancer or colorectal polyps, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, talk to your healthcare provider about earlier screening tests. A colonoscopy is the best way to find and remove colon polyps, preventing colorectal cancer before it starts or catching cancer at its earliest, most curable stage. If you have symptoms at any age, it is important to get screened.

Different screening options are available. Talk with your doctor about what kind of screening is right for you.

1 “What are the key statistics about colorectal cancer?” American Cancer Society. 30 Jul 2013. Web. 30 Jan 2014.