According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women and is expected to cause over 50,000 deaths in the United States during 2019. ACS reports that the death rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people per year) from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for several decades. Why? Polyps are being found more often by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers. Also, screening allows more colorectal cancers to be found earlier when the disease is easier to treat. In addition, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the last few decades. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.
Although the overall death rate has continued to drop, deaths from colorectal cancer among people younger than age 55 have increased 1% per year from 2007 and 2016. The American Cancer Society recommends that people of average risk starting screening at the age of 45. People at increased or high risk of colorectal cancer might need to start colorectal cancer screenings earlier if they have:
- A personal or strong family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
- A personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer
The screening can be done either with a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool (a stool-based test), or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam). If you are at increased risk, talk to a healthcare provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you. No matter which test you choose, the most important thing is to get screened. Talk to your insurance provider about your coverage.
It was estimated for 2018, by the American Cancer Society, there will have been 350 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed in ND.