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By the Numbers

According to the American Cancer Society’s Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2020-2022, unchecked division of abnormal cells. When this type of growth occurs in the colon or rectum, it is called colorectal cancer (CRC). The colon and rectum (colorectum), along with the anus, make up the large intestine, the final segment of the gastrointestinal (GI) system. In the United States, more than half (55 percent) of all CRCs are attributable to lifestyle factors, including an unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity, high alcohol consumption, and smoking. These behaviors are traditionally associated with high-income countries, where CRC rates are highest. Here are a few additional important facts, by the numbers, to help you better understand Colorectal Cancer.

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum and is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women, accounting for over 50,000 deaths a year.

But 90 percent of all colorectal cancer cases and deaths are preventable by removing polyps and cancer can be successfully treated — and often cured — when detected early. That is why screening for prevention and early detection is so important.

Routine screening tests can help prevent colorectal cancer and can detect the disease in its early stages when it is more easily treated.

Starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for colorectal cancer should begin routine screening tests. Research findings indicate, however, that African Americans are at a younger age than any other population when diagnosed with colorectal cancer. As a result, experts suggest that African Americans get screened beginning at age 45.

Approximately 4.4 percent of men (1 in 23) and 4.1 percent of women (1 in 25) will be diagnosed with CRC in their lifetime. Lifetime risk is similar in men and women despite higher incidence rates in men because women have longer life expectancy. In addition to sex, age and race/ethnicity also have a large influence on risk.

People with healthy lifestyle behaviors have a 27 percent to 52 percent lower risk of CRC compared to those without these behaviors If you have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, colorectal polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease, talk with your health care professional. You may need to be tested earlier or more frequently.

Polyps are grapelike growths on the lining of the colon or rectum that may become cancer. These polyps can be removed to prevent cancer from occurring.

Colonoscopy, when performed by a well-trained endoscopist, gastroenterologist or surgeon, is the most effective screening test. Colonoscopy also plays an important role in colorectal cancer prevention because precancerous polyps can be removed when they are discovered during the procedure.


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