ALEXANDRIA, VirginiaMarch 2006 marks the seventh annual National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The national nonprofit Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation (CRPF) and its partners have activities planned to increase general knowledge in the United States about colorectal cancer, to advocate screening, and to encourage potentially life-saving lifestyle changes. As the CRPF emphasizes on its newly redesigned website dedicated to awareness month (www.preventcancer.org/colorectal/), "Colorectal Cancer is Preventable, Treatable, and Beatable!"
While colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, the CRPF points out that about 90% of all cases and deaths are preventable; further, if detected and treated early, the 5-year relative survival rate for colorectal cancer is greater than 90%, so there is reason for hope and making proactive choices to avoid the disease. A key focus of efforts by the CRPF, founded in 1985 by Carolyn Aldig, is to increase awareness that colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, affects men and women equally, and most cases are not hereditary, so screening is essential.
'Super Colon' Exhibit
Highlights of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month include the educational and fun Super Colon, which has traveled to 20 US cities since its inception in 2004. Super Colon is an inflatable, 20-foot-long, 8-foot-high replica of a human colon (see photograph).
Visitors walking through it learn about the importance of regular colorectal cancer screening tests, a healthy diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications for colorectal cancer prevention. They are presented with information about colorectal cancer risks, symptoms, and treatment options, and they also learn differences between healthy tissue vs tissue from nonmalignant colorectal diseases and various stages of colorectal cancer. In 2006, the Super Colon tour kicked off in Pittsburgh on February 21; in March, it travels to Albuquerque, New Mexico; Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; and Washington, DC.
'Scope It Out' Run/Walk
Another annual event for March is the "Scope It Out 5K Run/Walk," a not-for-profit fundraising and screening-awareness race created by the all-volunteer Charles A. Kraenzle Colon Cancer Foundation.
"As many as 80% of the 150,000 annual cases of colon cancer could be prevented if only the colonoscopy were as commonly utilized as the mammogram and Pap smear," said John Marshall, MD, who will speak during the 2006 race awards ceremony. Dr. Marshall is director, Developmental Therapeutics and Gastrointestinal Oncology, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Super Colon (top) is a 20-foot-long walk-through replica of the human colon. Buddy Bracelets (bottom) remind wearers to get screened and are passed on to others after screening.