March is

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

This annual observance has grown to be a rallying point for the colon cancer community. Patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates throughout the country join together to spread awareness by wearing blue and holding fundraising and education events. To find out about events in your area, visit

Some important facts about colorectal cancer

  • The death rate has decreased overall, but it has increased by 1% a year between 2007 to 2016 for people younger than age 55.
  • In 2019, about 101,420 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer, about 44,180 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer and approximately 51,020 people will die from colorectal cancer.
  • Most colorectal cancers develop first as polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous if not removed. That is why it is so important to get a preventive screening.
  • More than 55% of colorectal cancers in the US are attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors. These risk factors include obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and a diet lacking in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Researchers and doctors do not yet know the exact reasons for the increase in disease in younger adults. It may be linked with lifestyles related to this type of cancer, such as being less active, or conditions like obesity. Based on recent research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center predicts these alarming rates for younger adults in the coming years:

  • By 2030 the incidence rates among people ages 20 – 34 years will increase by 90% for colon cancer and by 124.2% for rectal cancer.
  • Among people ages 35 – 49 years, incidence rates will increase by 27.7% for colon cancer and by 46% for rectal cancer.

Get Screened – It Saves Lives

The American Cancer Society now recommends having your first screening at age 45, but speak with your doctor about what is right for you, as family history and other factors play a role in the timing of your first test.

A recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine underscored the effectiveness of colonoscopy and colon polyp removal in saving lives. Researchers saw that the death rate from colorectal cancer was cut by 53% in patients whose doctors had removed precancerous polyps.

There is no good excuse to put it off. Your first colonoscopy screening in a calendar year is covered at 100% with your Pearson medical plan.

Be Informed – Know the Symptoms

In its early stage, colorectal cancer usually doesn’t have symptoms (another reason for screenings), so it’s important to pay attention if you notice any of these things happening. Some of the symptoms might also be related to other gastrointestinal disorders. Talk to your doctor about what you are experiencing and together you will figure it out.