March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in Iowa. As part of this annual health observance, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is encouraging Iowans starting at the age of 45 to get screened for colorectal cancer (CRC).
Often preventable with routine screenings, one in 24 Iowans will be diagnosed with CRC during their lifetime. In most cases, CRC develops from precancerous polyps, or abnormal growths, in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find these polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. The tests can also find CRC early, when treatment works best. Regular screening starting at age 45 is the key to preventing CRC (cancer of the colon or rectum).
- CRC is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States for all genders. An estimated 106,000 Americans will be diagnosed with CRC and more than 44,000 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2022, according to the American Cancer Society.
- In 2022, an estimated 1,600 Iowans will be diagnosed with CRC and 540 will die from the highly treatable cancer, according to Iowa Cancer Registry.
- Early cases can begin as noncancerous polyps and precancerous polyps and CRC do not always show symptoms.
Through IDPH's Iowa Get Screened program, free CRC screening is available to eligible Iowans at the Black Hawk County Health Department and the Polk County Health Department. Additionally, through a cooperative agreement with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), IDPH provides funding and resources to 10 Federally Qualified Health Centers in Iowa to help increase CRC screenings among the people they serve.
“There are a number of different screening tests available and some can be done in the privacy of your own home,” said Jeanna Jones, BS, RTT, Screening Promotion
Coordinator with the IDPH Iowa Get Screened Program.
In addition to age and family history, other risk factors for colorectal cancer include lack of regular physical activity; a diet low in fruits and vegetables; a low-fiber, high-fat diet;
being overweight; regular or heavy alcohol consumption; and tobacco use.
For more information about colorectal cancer and the Iowa Get Screened Program, visit www.idph.iowa.gov/igs.