Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Call Congress in Support of Colorectal Cancer Legislation

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  And while we should be vigilant year round about colorectal cancer screening and education, the month of March can provide an important platform to focus our advocacy and education efforts.

Two bills were recently introduced in the US House of Representatives that if passed, could have a major impact on colorectal cancer prevention.  The Prevent Cancer Foundation is pleased to provide you with an opportunity throughout the month of March to communicate directly with your legislators in support of these two bills.

Just dial 1-877-354-4955 and enter your zipcode.  You will be immediately connected  to the office of your Member of Congress.  Ask for the staff member that handles health care issues, and then tell her that you support two bills - H. Con. Res. 60 and HR 1189.  Ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor these bills!

Below are some talking points to help get you started.  We hope that you will join us and thousands of men and women across the country in educating our elected officials that colorectal cancer is preventable, beatable and treatable!

Talking Points

  • I am calling today to bring two bills to your attention.  Both were introduced by Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12) and Congressman Patrick Kennedy (RI-1.)
  • The first is a resolution that will help educate Members of Congress and the public about the effectiveness and importance of screening for colorectal cancer.  H. Con. Res. 60 commemorates the 10th anniversary of the designation of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and supports awareness of crucial education initiatives.
  • H.R. 1189, the Colorectal Cancer Prevention, Early Detection, and Treatment Act of 2009 would create a Federally funded screening program for low-income, uninsured and underinsured men and women and would remove a critical barrier to screening.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation wants to thank our generous sponsors of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, including: sanofi-aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche and Genentech.

Colorectal Cancer Fact Sheet

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. It’s as common in women as it is in men.

This year, over 142,500 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and nearly 51,400 will die of the disease. With certain types of screening, this cancer can be prevented by removing polyps (grape-like growths on the wall of the intestine) before they become cancerous. Several screening tests detect colorectal cancer early, when it can be more easily and successfully treated.

At Risk
  • People age 50 and older
  • People who smoke
  • People who are overweight or obese, especially those who carry fat around their waists
  • People who aren’t physically active
  • People who drink alcohol in excess, especially men
  • People who eat a lot of red meat (such as beef, pork or lamb) or processed meat (such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs or cold cuts)
  • People with personal or family histories of colorectal cancer or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps
  • People with personal histories of inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • People with family histories of inherited colorectal cancer or inherited colorectal problems
Risk Reduction and Early Detection
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes, at least five days a week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit.
  • If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman or two drinks a day if you’re a man.
  • Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help you get and stay healthy.
  • Eat less red meat and cut out processed meat.
If you’re at average risk for colorectal cancer, start getting screened at age 50. If you’re at higher risk, you may need to start regular screening at an earlier age and be screened more often. If you’re older than 75, ask your doctor if you should continue to be screened. The best time to get screened is before you have any symptoms.
Use this information to help you talk about screening options with your health care professional. Consider one of these tests:
Tests that find pre-cancer and cancer • Screening intervals:• Colonoscopy  • Every 10 years
• Virtual colonoscopy  • Every 5 years
• Flexible sigmoidoscopy  • Every 5 years
• Double-contrast barium enema  • Every 5 years

Tests that mainly find cancer • Screening intervals: 
• Stool occult blood test (FOBT) (guaiac) • Every year
• Stool immunochemical test (FIT)  • Every year
• Stool DNA test (sDNA)  • Ask your health care professional because technology is evolving.

An abnormal result of a virtual colonoscopy or a double-contrast barium enema, or a positive FOBT, FIT or sDNA test, should be followed up with a colonoscopy.

SymptomsEarly stages of colorectal cancer don’t usually have symptoms. Later on, people may have these symptoms:
  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in or on the stool
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Stools that are more narrow than usual
  • General problems in the abdomen, such as bloating, fullness or cramps
  • Diarrhea, constipation or a feeling in the rectum that the bowel movement isn’t quite complete
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason
  • Being tired all the time
  • Vomiting
If you have any of these symptoms, see your health care professional.

TreatmentSurgery is the most common treatment. When the cancer has spread, chemotherapy or radiation may be given before or after surgery.

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