Thursday, March 1, 2012

Colorectal Cancer: One of the few malignancies that can be prevented or detected early through screening

March is the National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and a great opportunity to share Maine-specific data on colorectal cancer.
  1. According to the Maine Cancer Registry, 2004-2008 data, only 46% of the colorectal cancers in Maine are detected at an early stage
  2. Studies show that when providers recommend screening directly to their patients, they are significantly more likely to comply with screening 
  3. Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) and FOBT are options for early cancer detection that can be used in patients who have average risk for colon cancer BUT
    • should not be used as an office-based test (i.e., as part of rectal exam).
    • If positive, should be followed up with a colonoscopy (and not repeated for confirmation)

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in Maine.  In the past few decades we have seen reduced incidence of, and mortality from, colorectal cancer, likely due to increased screening, especially utilization of colonoscopy (which can prevent cancer by removing pre-cancerous polyps and detect cancer early so it is more easily and successfully treated).  Among those who develop colorectal cancer in our state, 55% of people under age 65 and 45% of people over age 65 are diagnosed at a later stage, despite availability of a variety of screening tests for early detection.

Maine CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (MCRCCP) is a statewide program funded through a cooperative agreement by the US CDC. The purpose of the MCRCCP is to
  • Increase the colorectal cancer screening rate of Maine residents age 50 and older from 74.3% [2010 BRFSS] to 80% by 2014 (Adults aged 50+ who have ever had a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy)
  • Help reduce financial barriers to screening (specifically by colonoscopy or FIT) for low income uninsured Maine residents age 50 and older

For more information about the MCRCCP or for patients who may need assistance, call 877-320-6800 or visit our website at

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