MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU Cancer Institute, the West Virginia Mountains of Hope State Cancer Coalition, and WVU Medicine are promoting the Colorectal Cancer Awareness campaign during the month of March and Dress in Blue Day on March 3 to raise awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening in the Mountain State.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined in the United States and West Virginia. Yet, it is one of the most preventable cancers. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 26 for women. In West Virginia, an estimated 1,120 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, and 440 will likely die.
Colorectal cancer screening, starting at age 45 and continuing through 75, can find cancer early, when it is easier to treat and cure. Approximately one out of three persons are not being screened for colorectal cancer. Completing on-time screening is important to saving lives. Individuals should talk with their healthcare provider about the colorectal cancer screening test that is right for them.
On March 3, individuals, healthcare providers, community organizations, and faith groups are encouraged to dress in blue and wear a blue star for Dress in Blue Day to raise awareness of and promote colorectal cancer screening. Individuals and organizations are invited to take photos of their blue outfits and blue stars and post them on their favorite social media platform using the hashtag #WVBlueforCRC.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45 for both men and women at average risk, a change from the previous recommendation to begin screening at age 50. In 2023, universal coverage of colorectal cancer screening at age 45 is now covered by most health plans. People who are in good health and with a life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75. For those older than 75, the decision to screen should be based on a conversation with their health care provider.
Someone is considered average risk for colorectal cancer if they do not have any of the following:
- Personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- Confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome
Those interested in colorectal cancer screening should talk to their healthcare providers about risk factors and which screening test is appropriate. For more colorectal cancer screening information, visit CDC.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/screening/index.htm (or site of your choice).
To schedule an appointment, contact your primary care physician or your local health department.