Colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable cancers, but treatment requires diagnosis, and diagnosis requires screening. Unfortunately, millions of Americans forego colorectal cancer screening and colorectal cancer remains the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 percent of adults in the United States have never been screened for colorectal cancer. About two-thirds (65 percent) were up to date in screenings, and 7 percent had been screened but were not current on their screenings.
Colorectal cancer often has no symptoms until it is in advanced stages, which makes it even more dangerous. The “Why should I go to the doctor if I feel fine?” mentality just doesn’t work when it comes to colorectal cancer because often there is no accompanying pain. Diagnosis is usually shocking and sometimes devastating.
For the first time in 13 years, colorectal cancer has gotten the attention it deserves. President Obama declared March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. A nationally recognized month has helped spread awareness about colorectal cancer and the need for screening.
In 2011, the CDC gathered data from the 50 states to rank the states with the highest rates of colorectal cancer. The ranking may surprise you, but the numbers don’t lie. Here are the results from highest overall incidence rate to lower. The number that follows indicates the cases of colorectal cancer per 100,000 people.
- Kentucky (58.8)
- Mississippi (58.5)
- West Virginia (57.0)
- Hawaii (56.2)
- Louisiana (55.9)
- Iowa (54.6)
- Illinois (53.9)
- South Dakota (52.5)
- Pennsylvania (51.3)
We have the power to change these statistics, one colonoscopy at a time. If you have not had a colon screening, promise yourself to make that call today. Also, encourage a loved one to schedule a colonoscopy, and offer to drive him or her to and from the procedure. Colorectal cancer incidences can drop dramatically if we do our part to spread the word and stay up to date on our own screenings.