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Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

A VA nurse practitioner consults with a Veteran about colorectal cancer screening

A VA nurse practitioner consults with a Veteran about colorectal cancer screening.

Quality of care for Veteran’s includes raising awareness around important health topics. By highlighting some of the national health awareness campaigns each month, Veterans can get ideas, information, and resources on a variety of health matters.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, making it a perfect time to get screened for colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. It is also the second leading cause of cancer deaths, behind lung cancer. To put it in perspective, the yearly death toll from colorectal cancer in America exceeds the total number of American combat deaths during the entire Vietnam War. But it doesn’t have to be.

In the past decade, colorectal cancer has emerged as one of the most preventable common cancers. If all men and women age 50 and older were screened regularly, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Screening is typically recommended for all between the ages of 50 and 75 years. VA diagnoses some 4,000 new cases of the disease each year in Veterans.

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. It’s as common in women as it is in men. Most colorectal cancers start as a growth called a polyp. If polyps are found and removed before they turn into cancer, then many colorectal cancers can be prevented. Several screening tests detect colorectal cancer early, when it can be more easily and successfully treated. Additionally, if colorectal cancer is caught early by screening, before symptoms develop, then it can usually be cured.

How can you prevent colorectal cancer?

  • Routine colorectal cancer screening
  • Regular exercise
  • Stop smoking and avoid tobacco products
  • Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, & whole grains; and limit intake of red meats
  • Limit alcohol consumption

For questions about your need for colorectal cancer screening, please discuss this issue with your VA primary care provider.

Make this March the month you decide to get screened!

For More Information:

  • Veterans Health Library - Colorectal Cancer Screening
    VA's Veterans Health Library provides information and resources regarding colorectal cancer screening and prevention.
  • ACS - Colorectal Cancer
    The American Cancer Society provides a number of helpful resources as well as a comprehensive breakdown of colorectal cancer information, including risk factors and tips for cancer prevention.