March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Posted at 10:43 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 18:07:43-05

GREAT FALLS — March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and March 4th is Dress in Blue Day to raise awareness of the deadly - but preventable - disease.

According to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, by wearing blue on Friday “you bring awareness to this disease and support our work — as well as honor all who are impacted by colorectal cancer.”

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in mean and women, according to the American Cancer Society.

As estimated 151,030 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2022, according to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. It’s a preventable disease, thanks to screening, and early detection is key.

The American Cancer Society ( recommends starting regular colon cancer screening at the age of 45 for those with an average risk.

The American Cancer Society changed their recommendation in recent years ( ), dropping the recommended starting age from 50 to 45.

People with an increased risk factor, such as a family history of colon cancer, may need to start screening sooner. Factors like ethnicity and lifestyle are also considered by doctors in determining when screening should start.

While the recommended screening age for those at average risk starts at age 45, colorectal cancer also affects younger people.

“By 2030, researchers predict that colorectal cancer will be the leading cause of cancer deaths in people ages 20-49,” according to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is funding research into young-onset colorectal cancer cases. Their research indicates 10% of colorectal cancer cases diagnosed in the United States are in people under the age of 50. (

Screening is important because colorectal cancer symptoms can often be overlooked or difficult to recognize in the early stages. The American Cancer Society lists these as potential signs and symptoms:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that's not relieved by having one
  • Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
  • Blood in the stool, which might make the stool look dark brown or black
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

There are a number of screening options ( ) available, including but not limited to the traditional colonoscopy. Consulate with your doctor to learn your risk factors and determine which screening method is best for you.

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