Colon Cancer :: Medical groups unite to educate women about colon cancer

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) announced a new education campaign aimed at reducing deaths from colorectal cancer among women. Colorectal cancer is the No. 2 cancer killer of adults in the US and the third leading cause of cancer death among women in the US, behind lung and breast cancers.

ACOG officials called upon ob-gyns to educate their patients about the importance of regular colorectal cancer screening. ACOG’s partners in the campaign include The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and the American College of Gastroenterology.

“This initiative is about reaching out to women with an important life-saving message: Colorectal cancer is preventable; it’s treatable; and it’s beatable,” said ACOG President Douglas W. Laube, MD, MEd. “This is an extremely vital theme because the benefits of colorectal cancer screening are not fully understood. People have a built-in denial system that says, ‘This couldn’t happen to me,’ but we’re talking about the ability to prevent a potentially lethal disease. That’s pretty powerful, and that is the message we hope to get across to women.

“We want women to be as vigilant about getting tested for this disease as they are about getting their mammogram and Pap test,” noted Dr. Laube. “Most women don’t know that colorectal cancer is in fact a disease of women. Each year it takes the lives of nearly as many women as do ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers combined,” he added.

In 2007 it is estimated that nearly 154,000 Americans?about the same number of women as men?will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer (often referred to as colon cancer). Despite the promising decline in colorectal cancer deaths in recent years, the disease will claim the lives of more than 52,000 Americans this year alone; of these deaths, more than 26,000 will be women.

“It is painfully apparent, with the nearly 75,000 new cases each year developing in women, that colorectal cancer is not just a ‘man’s disease.’ Colorectal cancer is an equal opportunity killer, but with screening and early detection it can be prevented,” said David A. Johnson, MD, president of the American College of Gastroenterology. “We are pleased to be part of this campaign. Women need to hear and heed the call to action to get screened for colorectal cancer,” he noted.

Colorectal cancer is a slow-growing cancer that affects the cells in the colon and rectum and can spread to other parts of the body; its exact causes are unknown. “Perhaps the least understood aspect of colorectal cancer, and the most compelling, is the fact that colon cancer can be stopped before it starts if precancerous polyps are found and removed, thereby avoiding the disease completely,” said Benjamin E. Greer, MD, chair of ACOG’s Committee on Gynecologic Practice. “Screening, beginning at age 50, should definitely be added to a woman’s ‘to do list’ if it isn’t already a priority. It’s really a no-brainer when you think about it. Screening should be automatic for everyone when they turn 50?just do it,” he added.

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