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Notice to Readers: National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This health observance was created in 2000 to increase awareness of the importance of regular screening to save lives and decrease the national burden of colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum). Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, after lung/bronchus cancer.

In 2002, a total of 139,534 adults in the United States had colorectal cancer diagnosed, and 56,603 adults died from colorectal cancer (1). The impact of colorectal cancer can be lessened through regular screening, which has been shown to reduce incidence and mortality (2).

CDC directly supports National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month through its Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Control Initiative, which includes "Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign" (SFL), research related to colorectal cancer prevention and control, and activities aimed at increasing colorectal cancer screening. In addition, through its National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, CDC funds state-based programs to better maximize resources, improve community-based education and health promotion, share expertise, and effectively target at-risk populations. This year, the funded states implementing colorectal cancer prevention and control activities include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.

CDC and other public health agencies encourage all persons aged >50 years in the United States to discuss colorectal cancer screening options with their health-care providers. Health consumers can learn more about preventing colorectal cancer through routine screening by becoming familiar with the SFL campaign, which is designed to provide clear and concise information about colorectal cancer screening to adults aged >50 years.

Public health measures to increase awareness and encourage regular colorectal cancer screening starting at age 50 years are important to achieve the Healthy People 2010 to reduce colorectal cancer deaths (objective no. 3-5) (3), and meet CDC's health protection goal of increasing the number of adults who live longer, high-quality, productive, and independent lives ( Additional information regarding the SFL campaign and CDC's national colorectal cancer prevention programs is available at Information regarding CDC's comprehensive cancer control program is available at


  1. US Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States cancer statistics: 1999--2002 incidence and mortality. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Cancer Institute; 2005. Available at
  2. Pignone M, Rich M, Teutsch SM, et al. 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. US Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy people 2010. 2nd ed. With understanding and improving health and objectives for improving health. 2 vols. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, November 2000. Available at

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Date last reviewed: 3/23/2006


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