Knowing Your Family’s Colon Cancer History Could Save Your Life

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The month of March is National Colon Cancer Awareness month.  The American Cancer Society recognizes that the most effective way to save lives and eliminate suffering from colorectal cancer is to obtain new knowledge on the cause, prevention, early detection, treatment, and survivorship of the disease.

Toward this end, the American Cancer Society is currently supporting 124 research projects totaling almost $50 million related to colorectal cancer. These investments have resulted in tremendous payoffs, as American Cancer Society–funded research has led to the development of lifesaving colorectal cancer drugs such as cetuximab (Erbitux®) and more effective combination chemotherapy regimens, the discovery and understanding of genes linked to colorectal cancer, and inroads into colorectal cancer prevention through screening and lifestyle modification.

Thanks in part to such advances, the death rates for colorectal cancer have declined in both men and women over the past two decades; from 2004 to 2008, the rate declined by 2.7% per year in men and by 2.5% per year in women.

Did you know that colorectal cancer is highly treatable if found in its early stages?  Most people should start getting screened for colorectal cancer at age 50, but people with a family history are at higher risk and may need to be screened earlier.

The American Cancer Society is encouraging everyone to make a point to learn their family history of colon cancer, and reminding men and women 50 and older to get tested for the disease even if they have no family history.

The Society has made it easier than ever to learn about it with the Family PLZ! campaign, developed by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable.  The website (www.familyplz.org) provides tools to help you search and share your family history of colorectal cancer with your doctor and loved ones. The campaign also encourages younger generations to participate in the discussions.

Director of Prostate & Colorectal Cancer, Durado Brooks, M.D., M.P.H., says “the most important thing to remember about colon cancer is that it is preventable, treatable and beatable.”

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.5 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, about 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

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