Skip Navigation LinksSkip Navigation Links
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Safer Healthier People
Blue White
Blue White
bottom curve
CDC Home Search Health Topics A-Z spacer spacer
Blue curve MMWR spacer

Persons using assistive technology might not be able to fully access information in this file. For assistance, please send e-mail to: Type 508 Accommodation and the title of the report in the subject line of e-mail.

Notice to Readers: National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This national health observance serves to increase public awareness about the importance of regular testing to decrease the burden of colorectal cancer (i.e., cancer of the colon or rectum) and to encourage persons aged >50 years to reduce their risk for colorectal cancer through regular screening examinations.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States; during 2004, an estimated 56,730 such deaths will occur, and 146,940 new cases will be diagnosed (1). Regular testing beginning at age 50 years is the key to preventing colorectal cancer (2). However, despite recommendations for screening, the majority of persons who are at risk for colorectal cancer are not being screened. In 2000, only 45% of men and 41% of women aged >50 years had had a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy during the preceding 10 years or had used a home-fecal occult blood test during the preceding 1 year. Screening rates were particularly low among persons who had no health insurance, had no usual source of health care, or had not visited a doctor during the preceding 1 year (3).

To reduce the colorectal cancer death rate, CDC has implemented a broad-based initiative to 1) promote colorectal cancer screening nationwide through the "Screen for Life" campaign; 2) build national and state partnerships that focus on colorectal cancer awareness; 3) support education and training efforts for the public and health professionals; 4) conduct surveillance and research to evaluate screening test prevalence, barriers to screening, and the safety and availability of screening tests; and 5) fund comprehensive cancer-control programs that promote colorectal cancer screening. Additional information about colorectal cancer is available at Information about CDC's "Screen for Life" campaign is available at


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer facts and figures, 2004. Atlanta, Georgia: American Cancer Society, 2004; publication no. 5008.04.
  2. Pignone M, Rich M, Teutsch SM, Berg AO, Lohr KN. Screening for colorectal cancer in adults at average risk: a summary of the evidence for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med 2002;137: 132--41.
  3. Swan J, Breen N, Coates RJ, Rimer BK, Lee NC. Progress in cancer screening practices in the United States: results from the National Health Interview Survey. Cancer 2003;97:1528--40.


Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

References to non-CDC sites on the Internet are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites. URL addresses listed in MMWR were current as of the date of publication.

Disclaimer   All MMWR HTML versions of articles are electronic conversions from ASCII text into HTML. This conversion may have resulted in character translation or format errors in the HTML version. Users should not rely on this HTML document, but are referred to the electronic PDF version and/or the original MMWR paper copy for the official text, figures, and tables. An original paper copy of this issue can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402-9371; telephone: (202) 512-1800. Contact GPO for current prices.

**Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to

Page converted: 3/18/2004


Safer, Healthier People

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd, MailStop E-90, Atlanta, GA 30333, U.S.A


Department of Health
and Human Services

This page last reviewed 3/18/2004