March marks Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the disease in Canada and around the world. Colorectal Cancer Canada (CCC) celebrates the month by honouring individuals and families who are touched by challenges associated with the disease and by organizing a number of awareness-focused initiatives.

While colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable, it is still the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Canada. Last year, more than 26,000 Canadians were diagnosed with the disease and more than 9,000 died from it. Colorectal cancer is preventable in most cases and highly treatable and curable if caught in the early stages. Consequently, every March, CCC stresses the importance of prevention through healthy lifestyles and colorectal cancer screening.

“For those who do have colorectal cancer, patients now have more options to treat this disease than ever before,” says Barry D. Stein, Colorectal Cancer Canada president. “New treatments are being approved which can extend life with excellent quality. Other treatments are undergoing clinical trials that may completely change the manner in which we treat this disease and, for a subset of colorectal cancer patients, immunotherapies are beginning to provide hope where none existed before. I am more optimistic than ever before in our ability to prolong lives and ultimately find a cure.”

Colorectal cancer can affect anyone, male or female, young or old. Although the disease is more commonly found in individuals 50 years and older, recently, many young people have been diagnosed with the disease. The occurrence of young-onset of colorectal cancer appears to be steadily increasing and an explanation as to why continues to elude researchers, health professionals and patients. Our Never Too Young (N2Y) campaign reaches out to this young population with information, education and support, and we want young patients to know we are here for them.

CCC is dedicated to colorectal cancer awareness and education programs, support for patients and their families and advocacy on their behalf. Programs focus on some of the key aspects of improving cancer care in Canada, including: primary prevention through healthy lifestyles and the Foods That Fight Cancer Program; promotion of colorectal cancer screening in all provinces and territories; education and support for early onset of colorectal cancer and young and adolescent cancer patients; patient values and preferences in cancer drugs and treatments; timely access to effective treatment to improve patient outcomes; access to and promotion of cancer clinical trials; development of real-world evidence to better understand the benefits and risks to patients with new medications; information on immunotherapies and better access to these new therapies where appropriate; and access to upfront biomarker testing and companion diagnostics for better treatment planning.

By supporting CCC, not only are you becoming part of the fight against cancer, you are helping develop important programs and support for patients across the country who struggle to meet the challenges of the disease.

During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, many people helped support CCC and its patients by organizing a “Dress in Blue” day at their workplace on March 2. By dressing in blue and raising funds for important CCC programs, they helped spread awareness, supported patients and their families and helped them face the daily challenges of the disease. It’s a simple and fun day that can ultimately save a life. Visit www.dressinblue.ca for more information.

CCC reminds everyone of the importance of “Get your butt over here.” Talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer screening.  It can save lives.