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Notice to Readers: National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month --- March 2007

Colorectal cancer (i.e., cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. In 2003 (the most recent year for which data are available), 55,783 adults died of colorectal cancer (27,990 men and 27,793 women) in the United States, according to CDC's U.S. Cancer Statistics: 2003 Incidence and Mortality report (1). In 2003, colorectal cancer, the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, was diagnosed in 143,945 adults (73,182 men and 70,763 women) (1). An estimated 50%--60% of colorectal cancer deaths would be prevented if all adults aged >50 years were routinely screened (2). However, approximately one half of U.S. residents at average risk in that age group have not been screened for colorectal cancer, according to national guidelines (3).

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. CDC conducts research, monitors national data, and supports various programs to promote increased screening for this largely preventable disease. Among programs to increase screening rates for colorectal cancer, CDC has implemented a colorectal cancer screening demonstration program to provide screening and diagnostic follow-up to low-income and underinsured or uninsured populations. The demonstration program currently is conducted at five sites in the United States. In addition, CDC educates the public about the benefits of colorectal cancer screening through its multiyear, multimedia Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign. Additional information is available at


  1. US Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 2003 incidence and mortality (preliminary data). Atlanta, GA: Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Cancer Institute; 2006.
  2. Guide to clinical preventive services, 2005: recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. AHRQ Publication No. 05-0570, June 2005. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Available at
  3. Meissner HI, Breen N, Klabunde CN, Vernon SW. Patterns of colorectal cancer screening uptake among men and women in the United States. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006;15:389--94.

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Date last reviewed: 3/15/2007


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Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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