Nebraska Extension is partnering with the Nebraska Cancer Coalition to heighten awareness of lifesaving colorectal cancer (CRC) screening during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March. The Nebraska Cancer Coalition’s (NC2) awareness campaign combats the lack of information and misinformation about colorectal cancer, the second leading cancer killer in our state. Nebraska ranks 29th in screening rates. Rural communities are most concerning because people aren’t getting screened or getting screened too late to achieve a successful outcome. Here are some facts you should know!
#1: Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in Nebraska and our state ranks 29th in screening rates.
• In 2023, the American Cancer Society estimates 950 new cases in Nebraska.
• In 2023, the American Cancer Society estimates 320 deaths in Nebraska.
• Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates are higher in Nebraska when compared to overall U.S. rates.
• In 2020, 27.5% of eligible Nebraskans are not up to date on colorectal screening.
#2: 45 is the new 50 for colorectal cancer screening. Regular screening, beginning at age 45, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer and finding it early.
• Since the 1990s, the rate of colorectal cancer has more than doubled among adults younger than 50, and more younger people are dying from the disease.
• Lowering the recommended age for lifesaving colorectal cancer screening makes it available to more Nebraskans, increasing prevention and early detection.
• Only 21% of 45–49-year old’s report being up to date with colorectal cancer screening.
#3: The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted lifesaving colorectal cancer screening.
• There were an estimated 1.7 million missed colonoscopies in 2020, which may lead to thousands of excess deaths from colorectal cancer over the next decade.
• During the pandemic, the ebb and flow of COVID-19 case numbers have caused delayed medical care and screening.
• Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Nebraska but is largely preventable through screening.
• There are multiple safe, affordable options available for individuals to undergo colorectal cancer screening including at-home test kits.
#4: Colorectal cancer screening can prevent cancer from occurring and save lives.
• The stage of disease at diagnosis strongly affects the prognosis for colorectal cancer patients. The most recent national data indicates that the 5-year relative survival rates for colorectal cancer are 91% for early-stage diagnoses, while rates for later-stage cases fall to 73% for regional diagnoses and 14% for distant diagnoses.
• A regular colonoscopy (every 10 years) can detect non-cancerous polyps and remove them before they become cancerous. • There are multiple safe, affordable options available for individuals to undergo colorectal cancer screening including at-home test kits.
• As of January 1, 2019, there are an estimated 3,187 survivors of colorectal cancer in Nebraska.
#5: Certain factors put some Nebraskans at greater risk of developing colorectal cancer.
•Women and men over the age of 45 are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer, and the risk increases with age.
•Your risk for colorectal cancer may be higher than average if: 1. You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer. 2. You have inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis. 3. You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. People at increased risk for colorectal cancer may need earlier or more frequent tests than other people. Talk to your doctor about when to begin screening, which test is right for you, and how often you should be tested.
#6: There are many colorectal screening options available to Nebraskans.
• Recommended colorectal cancer screening tests include several types of stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy), and double-contrast barium enema. The frequency of testing varies by test type.
• Current guidelines recommend that all men and women at average risk for colorectal cancer get screened, beginning at age 45.
• Visit the Center for Disease Control at https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/ to learn more.
• If you’re a Nebraska resident between 45-75 years old and meet specific income guidelines, you may be eligible for low-cost colorectal cancer screening tests
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