March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 10, 2011) – Colorectal cancer can be prevented through routine screening, New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said today to mark March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Colorectal cancer – cancer that begins in the colon or rectum – is one of the most common cancers among New Yorkers. It is estimated that 5 percent of the population will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime.

"Each year in New York State, more than 10,000 people develop cancer of the colon and rectum, and nearly 3,500 New Yorkers die from this disease," Commissioner Shah said. "However, many New Yorkers are not aware of their risk and are not being screened at recommended intervals. Colorectal cancer often can be prevented. Regular screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer."

The Department of Health (DOH) recommends that all men and women age 50 and older get screened for colorectal cancer. Although this disease can occur at any age, most people who develop colorectal cancer are over age 50. People are at highest risk if they have a personal or family history of colon polyps (abnormal growths in the colon or rectum), colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease. People at higher risk for colorectal cancer may need earlier or more frequent tests than others; these individuals should talk to their physicians about when to begin screening and how often they should be tested.

DOH's Cancer Services Program Partnerships offer colorectal cancer screening to eligible uninsured women and men in every county and New York City borough. Towns across New York are raising awareness about this preventable cancer by hosting colorectal cancer screening events throughout March.

To find a Cancer Service Program Partnership near you, or to learn more about Colorectal Cancer Awareness month events in your area, call at 1-866-442-CANCER (2262) or visit Additional information about colorectal cancer can be found at and