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Breast Cancer Awareness Means Colon Cancer Awareness Too

Can you imagine a world without colon cancer? The people of the Colon Cancer Alliance certainly can! This nonprofit organization is dedicated towards increasing survivorship through education, early detection and treatment, which is why they’ve created their Screen This Too! campaign. All throughout the month of October, the Colon Cancer Alliance aims to remind everyone that colon health is just as important as breast health.

October is recognized worldwide as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness of the most common type of cancer found in women (except for skin cancers). This year in the United States alone, nearly 233,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed, and approximately 40,000 women will die from this disease (Source: CDC.gov). While breast cancer remains the second deadliest cancer among U.S. women, breast cancer mortality rates have been on the decline for the past 25 years, presumably due to increased screenings and improved treatments (cancer.org). Mammograms and routine breast exams are a crucial part of an early detection plan, which can greatly improve the chances of survival and successful treatment. According to the National Cancer Institute, women whose breast cancer is discovered early, while still in the localized stage, have a 98 percent 5-year survival rate.

There’s no doubt that preventive screening saves lives, but while 75 percent of women are up to date with their breast cancer screening, only 55 percent are current on colon cancer screening. Colon cancer ranks as the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States. Much like breast cancer, early detection through preventive screening greatly increases the chance of survival. When colon cancer is diagnosed at a localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 90 percent. This figure drops to 70 percent once the cancer has spread to the surrounding tissues, and a meager 13 percent once the cancer has spread to distant sites (Source: Colon Cancer Alliance).

The Screen This Too! campaign encourages women everywhere to advocate for their own health by requesting the necessary screenings for both breast and colon cancer. If you haven’t already, be sure to schedule your annual physical, and talk to your doctor about what procedures are recommended for your age. The preventive screening guidelines for breast cancer are as follows:

  • Adult women of all ages should perform monthly breast self-exams to check for changes or abnormalities
  • Adult women of all ages should receive annual clinical breast exams by a trained medical professional
  • Women over 40 should have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years. Women under 40 who are considered high risk for breast cancer should talk to their doctor about when to begin mammograms.

Preventive screening guidelines for colon cancer include:

  • Beginning colonoscopies at age 50, and every 10 years thereafter
  • Those who are African American or considered high risk should begin colonoscopy screening at age 45.