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"There really is no excuse" to avoid getting screened for colorectal cancers, local experts say

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Posted at 3:05 AM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 10:08:27-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — March 5 is a day dedicated to raising awareness of one of the most prevalent "silent killers" in the country.

Friday is National Dress in Blue Day, aimed at bringing attention to colorectal cancer and the need to get screened.

According to the American Cancer Society's estimated cancer statistics for 2021, there will be approximately 149,500 new colorectal cancer diagnoses this year alone. And about 52,980 Americans will die of the disease in 2021, making it the second-deadliest form of cancer behind respiratory cancers.

Erie County Cancer Services says statewide, it's the third-most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women combined, and 70% of New Yorkers are up to date on their screenings. Most are older than 65, although experts recommend you get screened around 50 years old.

In fact, experts have recently found the age of diagnoses is dropping, and say getting screened early is crucial.

"When we talk about colon cancer screening people automatically jump to the colonoscopy and think, "Oh, I don't want to go through all that," but there are options," said Erie County Cancer Services Program Director Michelle Wysocki. "There are easier take-home kits, which is our first line of screening in our program for average-risk individuals, so there's no excuse, there really is no excuse."

Wysocki recommends discussing getting screened for colorectal cancer with your primary care provider, and that you look into your family's history to see if you may be at an increased risk of developing the disease.

Experts say colorectal cancers have a 90% cure rate if they're caught early, so it's important to know the signs to watch out for so you get screened.

The death of Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman in August 2020 drew international attention to the reason younger adults should get screened. Boseman was 43 years old when he died after fighting colon cancer for four years.

Erie County Cancer Services provides screenings and at-home screening kits, as well as in-person screenings.