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Education Can Help Save Lives: Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is European Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (ECCAM), a time to share education and resources about the third most common cancer in men and the second most common cancer in women worldwide.1

Over the past thirty years, the cancer community has gained more information on who colorectal cancer (CRC) impacts and has evolved approaches to education, screenings, testing and treatment, to help improve prognosis for the disease and aid earlier detection and prevention. As a result of these efforts and awareness initiatives championed by patient advocacy organizations like Digestive Cancers Europe, more attention has been shone on the plight of patients with CRC and the need for more research.1

This year, awareness is more important than ever, as the pandemic has caused delays in screenings, diagnosis and treatment that threatens to stall much of this progress.2 Our CRC awareness campaign is therefore focused on three issues:

  • Education on Disparities

While CRC has historically been associated with older males, rates of the disease in adults under 50 have doubled over the last few decades, and prevalence has increased among women.3 Focusing on populations that are at higher risk of developing CRC and reducing disparities will help ensure these at-risk populations are aware of the disease and able to access help in a timely manner.

  • Screenings

CRC is thought to be preventable with screening, and global cancer organizations generally recommend screenings for this cancer to start at age 45. The screening slowdowns that have accompanied the pandemic are expected to bring about an increase in advanced-stage disease and, ultimately, mortality, and effort must be taken to ensure the benefits of screening are well understood.3

  • Testing and Treatment

Undergoing biomarker testing at diagnosis helps patients with CRC understand their type of cancer and guides treatment options.4 In this regard, there is still more work to be done to ensure that patients are made aware of the variety of testing options available especially as it relates to their biomarker status.  

“Patients frequently remain unaware of their biomarker status or are unsure if their physician ran a test,” says Anjee Davis, president of Fight CRC. “Patients should know their biomarker status to be able to make educated treatment decisions and understand their options for clinical trials.”

About Digestive Cancers Europe

Digestive Cancers Europe (DiCE) is a European umbrella organization representing patients with digestive cancer – colorectal, gastric, pancreatic and rare cancers. Founded in 2018 by Jolanta Gore-Booth, Stefan Gijssels, and Prof. Dr. Eric Van Cutsem DiCE´s mission is to contribute to early diagnosis and decreased mortality from digestive cancers and to increase overall survival and quality of life. For more information, please visit: https://digestivecancers.eu/

References

[1] Prevalence of Colorectal Cancer - Prevalence. (2020, August 28). Digestive Cancer Europe.
[2] Patt, D et al. JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics 2020. 4, 1059-1071; 2020.
[3] National Cancer Institute. Why Is Colorectal Cancer Rising Rapidly among Young Adults?. Accessed February 2021.
[4] NCCN. Biomarker Testing. Accessed February 2021.