February 27, 2009

Wear blue to promote colon cancer awareness

Wear blue to promote colon cancer awareness

The first annual “Dress in Blue Day” to promote colon cancer awareness will be held Friday, March 6.

In the United States, colorectal cancer is the No. 2 cause of cancer death and this year will kill as many people as breast cancer and AIDS combined.

Colorectal cancer strikes both men and women and is even more prevalent among African-Americans. Smoking, a diet high in fat and low in calcium, folate and fiber, and a family history of the disease are all risk factors. More than 90 percent of colon cancer cases are diagnosed after age 50.

“We want to remind everyone to start getting screened at age 50 and even earlier if they have a family history of colorectal cancer,” said Sheila Bates, manager of Community Outreach for Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Colonoscopy remains one of the best tests to detect the disease. Polyps that grow inside the colon lining may go on to become cancer and those polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy.

“This truly is a disease that often can be prevented with screening, and that's a wonderful message to share,” said Bates.