Colorectal Cancer 80 Percent by 2018 and Beyond
March 02, 2018
By Becky Powell MS, RN, AOCN, Health Educator at the Community Cancer Center
Last year, the Community Cancer Center reported on the 80 percent by 2018 Colon Cancer initiative. Since March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, we thought it would be a good time to provide an update on the success of this project. The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable created the “80 Percent by 2018” initiative to rally organizations across the country to help eliminate colorectal cancer as a major public health problem with the shared goal of 80 percent of adults aged 50 and older getting screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. This initiative will continue through December, but the commitment to achieving the 80 percent screening rate will continue beyond.
According to the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable and the American Cancer Society over 1,500 organizations have joined in the fight and signed the pledge to participate. In Illinois, there have been 117 pledges signed which include the local organizations of Advocate BroMenn, Digestive Disease Endoscopy Center, the Community Healthcare Clinic, OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Illinois CancerCare, OSF Medical Group, and the Community Cancer Center. Another major milestone is that this project has been added to the Cancer Moonshot Initiative.
So how successful has this project been? There are now 74 organizations reporting a colon cancer-screening rate of 80 percent and the rates nationwide are going up. If the screening rate continues at this pace, by the year 2030 the projection is that 37,200 deaths from colorectal cancer will be prevented. Organizations achieving the most success have identified one common theme, which is “champions” for the cause, and understand we all have a role to play. Locally, public education programs and a variety of media messages reminding people of the importance of colorectal cancer screening have been completed.
So, what can you do? If you are 50 or older and have not been screened for colon cancer, talk to your doctor. A colonoscopy, a test where a lighted tube is inserted into the colon to look for abnormalities, is the preferred screening method but there are other screening options available. Those include stool tests called a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or a fecal immunochemical test (FIT). Both these tests are looking for blood in the stool that could indicate a possible problem and that further testing is necessary. Check with your insurance plan for details regarding your specific coverage.
Screening for colon cancer can only save lives if it is done. Early developing colon cancer/polyps often cause no symptoms. Symptoms of colon cancer can include blood in the stool, rectal bleeding, a change in bowel habits, narrowing of the stool, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, anemia, or constipation that lasts for more than a few days. So, let’s all do our part in moving this initiative forward. Get screened and remind your family and friends to do so as well.
The Community Cancer Center offers a variety of free supportive and educational programs to help patient and families cope with cancer and its effects. For more information, go to www.cancercenter.org.
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