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FOR RELEASE: March 1 , 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives - Screen For Life
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

This year in Oklahoma, an estimated 1,880 new cases of colon and rectal cancer will be diagnosed and 720 Oklahomans will die as a result of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women.

The development of colorectal cancer can take many years. If the cancer is found in its early stages, 90 percent of those diagnosed will live at least five years, however, only 39 percent of colorectal cancers are found at an early stage. During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, the Oklahoma State Department of Health
(OSDH) reminds the public, especially persons age 50 and older, that early screening and early diagnosis of colorectal cancer can save lives. More than 90 percent of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are over the age of 50.

“Colorectal cancer screening offers an opportunity for the prevention, early detection and successful treatment of colorectal cancers,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Crutcher. “Early screening for colorectal cancer can help find polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. And if colorectal cancer is diagnosed as a result of early screening, it can be treated more effectively than in its later stages.”
In the early stages of colorectal cancer, there are usually no symptoms. In the later stages, rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, change in bowel habits, and cramping pain in the lower abdomen may occur.

The primary risk factors for colorectal cancer include age and personal or family history of colorectal cancer. Polyps or inflammatory bowel disease may increase risk. In addition, smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, physical inactivity, high fat and low fiber diet may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

To learn more about colorectal cancer testing, diagnosis, and treatment, especially if you are age 50 or older, check with your health care provider or call the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) or the OSDH Chronic Disease Service at 405-271-4072.

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