For Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Learn Why Screening for Colorectal Cancer is Vital, and Why All Adults, Including Those Under 50, Need to Remain Vigilant About Screening

In recent years, the deaths of actors Kirstie Alley and Chadwick Boseman have put a new national spotlight on colorectal cancer — the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, excluding skin cancers, and the third deadliest1. Beyond the headlines of high-profile celebrity cases, the disease impacts families every day in every part of the country2 — and is increasing in incidence among adults younger than 50. Fortunately, colorectal cancer is often preventable and highly treatable when caught early.

American College of Surgeons (ACS) experts recommend that patients speak to their physicians about this disease and take advantage of the screening options available to them. Screening for colorectal cancer saves lives, and should begin at age 45 for people at average risk of developing colorectal cancer, according to new guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Unfortunately, the CDC estimates that only about 70% of U.S. adults aged 50 to 75 are up to date on their screening, and much of the population may not be aware of all the screening options available to them. While colonoscopy is probably the most well-known test available, there are also other effective options. Stool-based tests can be performed at home, and other visualization tests less invasive than colonoscopy can be considered under certain circumstances. These tests have their advantages and disadvantages, and different requirements on frequency. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. The most important action to take is to get screened.

Dr. Yi Qian You

Dr. Yi-Qian Nancy You, MD, MHSc, FACS

American College of Surgeons expert, Dr. Y. Nancy You, distills key information on colorectal cancer and helps the public navigate all the options available for colorectal cancer screening as part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

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More about Dr. Yi-Qian Nancy You, MD, MHSc, FACS: Dr. You is a Professor of Colon & Rectal Surgery and Director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. You performs both open and advanced minimally-invasive surgery for colorectal cancer. Her clinical focus is personalized surgical care for colorectal cancer that is coordinated with multidisciplinary treatments.

Produced for: American College of Surgeons (ACS)

1 Data from the American Cancer Society:
2 People living in the Appalachian region and the rural South, including residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, and eastern Virginia, experience some of the highest rates of colorectal cancer. Siegel, Rebecca L., et al. "Where Can Colorectal Cancer Screening Interventions Have the Most Impact? Where Can Colorectal Cancer Screening Have the Most Impact?." Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 24.8 (2015): 1151-1156.