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Governor Susana Martinez has proclaimed March 20-26 as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Week in New Mexico.
As part of New Mexico’s participation in this annual national health observance, the New Mexico Department of Health Colorectal Cancer Program and the New Mexico Cancer Council encourage all New Mexicans age 50 and older to get regular screening for colorectal cancer.
Progress has been made in the war against colorectal cancer, according to the New Mexico Department of Health Colorectal Cancer Program.
Death rates from the disease have been dropping since the early 1990s, and incidence rates have been declining steadily over the past decade in both men and women.
The Colorectal Cancer Program attributes these strides to prevention and early detection through screening and increasingly effective treatment.
However, there is still more to be done.
Despite progress in the fight, many Americans are not getting lifesaving screening tests for colorectal cancer, and only 55 percent of all New Mexicans get regular screening for colorectal cancer.
However, colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented.
According to Dr. Catherine Torres, secretary designate of the New Mexico Department of Health, “colorectal cancer is preventable through lifestyle changes and through regular screening tests that allow doctors to detect and remove hidden growths (polyps) before they have the chance to become cancerous.”
In fact, researchers believe that half of colorectal cancer deaths could potentially be prevented if everyone age 50 and older received recommended screenings.
This March, as part of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the New Mexico Cancer Council and the New Mexico Department of Health are joining many public, private, and voluntary organizations to raise awareness about colorectal cancer, and help educate people to the fact that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable.
Here are some steps to take:
• If you are 50 or older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remind you to talk to your doctor about getting screened.
Talk to your doctor sooner if you have a family history of the disease or other condition that puts you at increased risk.
• Take the time to learn the facts about colorectal cancer. Visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/crccp/ for information and links to resources.
• Talk to your friends and family about the importance of getting screened for colorectal cancer and ways to help prevent the disease, like not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, eating less red meat, and consuming alcohol in moderation or not at all.
For more information, visit the New Mexico Colorectal Cancer Program at www.cancernm.org/crc/.