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President Declares March 2014 National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., March 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) applaud President Barack Obama's Proclamation designating March 2014 as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

In the proclamation, the President noted, "The second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, colorectal cancer claims more than 50,000 American lives each year. Because the odds of survival rise dramatically when this cancer is caught early, calling attention to it can save lives. During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we aim to improve public understanding of risk factors and screening recommendations, reach for better treatments, and set our sights on a cure."

ACG, AGA and ASGE thank Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr., (D-NJ) for his efforts in securing this Presidential Proclamation. Rep. Payne has made it his mission to raise awareness about colorectal cancer after his father, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr., lost his fight with colorectal cancer in 2012.

Each year more than 136,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States. The disease, however, is largely preventable with regular screening and is treatable with early detection. Of the more than 50,000 people who died of colorectal cancer in 2013, screening could have saved more than half of them.

Both men and women should undergo testing for the disease beginning at age 50. People with a high risk for colorectal cancer and those with a family history should talk with their doctor about being screened at an earlier age.

There are many tests to screen for colorectal cancer. While other screening tests can detect colorectal cancer, colonoscopy is the only screening test that examines the entire colon and can actually prevent colorectal cancer because precancerous polyps are removed during the procedure.  A 2012 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed a 53 percent decline in deaths for patients who underwent colonoscopy and had precancerous polyps removed.

Unfortunately, screening rates are too low. A 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 23 Million U.S. adults have not had the recommended screenings. The National Colorectal Roundtable has a goal for 80 percent of adults 50 and over to get screened by 2018.

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