Michigan Recognizes March As Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Governor Jennifer M. Granholm is again recognizing March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. March 2007 marks the continuation of a national effort to raise public awareness about colorectal cancer-a serious disease that affects many Michigan citizens.

"Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer," said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. "Screening not only detects the disease at an early, curable stage, but it can also prevent it by finding and removing polyps-or precancerous growths-that might become colorectal cancer."

The Michigan Cancer Consortium recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women starting at age 50. However, only 53 percent of Michigan adults age 50 and older report being screened.

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Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Michigan for both men and women combined. The American Cancer Society estimates that 1,750 Michigan men and women will die of colorectal cancer in 2007, with 5,570 new cases being diagnosed. Michigan currently ranks 31st in the nation for colorectal cancer deaths.

Everyone is at risk of developing colorectal cancer-all men and all women of all races. The primary risk factor for colorectal cancer is increasing age.

Other risk factors include a personal history of colon cancer, colon polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, a family history of colorectal cancer, having a diet high in animal fats or low in fiber, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, smoking, and alcohol abuse.

Screening is crucial as there may not be any symptoms in the early stages of the cancer. Symptoms of advanced disease may include rectal bleeding, bloody stool, irregular bowel habits, and/or cramping pain in the lower abdomen.

Preventative steps can be taken and include getting screened regularly and having any polyps removed, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and refraining from smoking and the excessive use of alcohol.

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