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Colorectal Cancer: Facts on 3rd Leading Cause of Death in US

Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. Here are seven facts about colon cancer for Americans.

Doctor holds colorectal cancer awareness ribbon

Colorectal Cancer: Facts on 3rd Leading Cause of Death in US

When you hear someone mention colorectal cancer, you probably don’t give it much thought. After all, colon cancer is rare and it only affects older people, right?

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States, and it’s expected to cause 50,630 deaths in 2018.

Here are Colon Cancer Facts for Americans:

  1. The risk of developing colorectal cancer is one in 22 for males and one in 24 for females.
  2. In 2018, an estimated 97,220 Americans will develop colon cancer and an estimated 43,030 will develop rectal cancer.
  3. Obesity is a major risk factor of colorectal cancer, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, over 36.5 percent of U.S. adults are obese.
  4. Although overall colon cancer incidence is dropping in the U.S., young-onset colon cancer in the has increased over the past decade.
  5. One-third Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 are not being properly screened for colon cancer and are putting themselves at unnecessary risk. This includes men and women who are not up-to-date on colon screenings or have never been screened for colon cancer. 
  6. Having health insurance impacts colon cancer screening rates. Adults who carry health insurance are more likely to be current with their colon screenings (71.1 percent) than adults who don’t have health insurance (36.3 percent).
  7. Adults between the ages of 65 to 75 are more likely to be current with colon screenings (78.4 percent) than adults aged 50 to 65 (61.8 percent) (Source: Center for Disease Control).

Why Colon Cancer is Common in US

Colon cancer rates in the United States continue to be high because of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Our high-fat/low-fiber diet coupled with a sedentary lifestyle puts Americans at risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and colorectal cancer. Smoking and alcohol use also significantly increase cancer risk, as well as eating red and processed meats. 

How to Lower Colon Cancer Rates in US

We can reduce the number of new cases of colon cancer through education and screening. Americans need to know that colorectal cancer is a real threat and take active steps to prevent it.  Because young-onset colon cancer is increasing, the American Cancer Society now recommends baseline colon screenings at age 45 instead of 50  for men and women at average risk for colon cancer. If you are African American or have a family or personal history of colon polyps or colon cancer, you should get screened earlier.

Prevent Colon Cancer with Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is the gold standard for colon screening because it is the only test that can prevent colon cancer. During a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist can remove precancerous polyps so they can’t develop into cancer.

A preventable cancer shouldn’t be the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Tell your family, friends and loved ones about the importance of getting a colonoscopy. It’s truly a life-saving exam.

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