Among the cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer (CRC) or bowel cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The good news is that CRC is preventable, treatable and beatable. March is observed as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to educate people about the disease, including the importance of early detection and screening.
President Clinton officially dedicated March as National Colon Cancer Awareness Month in February 2000. The month provides the opportunity to generate widespread awareness about colon cancer and to encourage people to learn more about how to prevent the disease through a healthy lifestyle, early detection and regular screening.
The survival rate of persons diagnosed with early stage colorectal cancer is 90 percent, but is only 10 percent when diagnosed after it has spread to other organs. This underlines the importance of screening or laboratory tests for CRC. In 2014, The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) launched ‘80% by 2018’ a campaign in which they are working with several other organizations to achieve the goal getting 80% of people screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. NCCRT also offers the Communications Guidebook which is designed to help educate, empower and mobilize three key audiences – newly insured, insured and financially challenged to get screened for colorectal cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 50–75 with high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. However, modalities such as colonoscopies are expensive and cumbersome, leading to low participation rates. Manufacturers need to focus on developing simple and cost-effective blood biomarkers as the first line screening test for CRC. Randox has taken a step in this direction and is working with scientists at Dublin City University to develop a simple, affordable blood test that can diagnose CRC or bowel cancer at the earliest possible stage.