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National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month --- March 2001

The U.S. Congress designated March as "National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month" in 2000 to increase public awareness about the disease and to encourage persons aged >50 years to reduce their risk for colorectal cancer through regular screening tests. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. During 2001, approximately 56,700 deaths will be attributed to colorectal cancer. Although effective screening is available, only 44% of U.S. adults aged >50 years have been screened recently with at least one of two tests. Routine screening has proven effective in reducing the number of cases of and deaths from colorectal cancer.

CDC supports National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month through the Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Control Initiative, which includes "Screen for Life: A National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign," and "A Call to Action," emphasizing to the public and to health-care providers the importance of early detection and regular screening among persons aged >50 years. CDC also supports training and education programs for health-care providers; conducts epidemiologic and behavioral research; oversees national cancer surveillance; and provides leadership by working with partners, health organizations, and state health departments.

States are increasing their focus on colorectal cancer prevention. For example, in Massachusetts, activities stress public and professional awareness of colorectal cancer. In New York, programs offer educational activities and access to screening services to the uninsured population. In North Carolina, surveys have been conducted to describe screening practices, to define barriers to screening, to assess public attitudes toward screening, and to assess screening insurance coverage. CDC's education and training materials are available on the World-Wide Web, http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/screenforlife and http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorctl/calltoaction.



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