March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Nearly 9,000 New Yorkers develop colorectal cancer each year and more than 3,000 die as a result

Regular screenings can help prevent many diagnoses and deaths.

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 8, 2016) –In commemoration of Colon Cancer Awareness Month, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) is kicking off a new media campaign and launching a new website that discusses colon cancer and urges all adults age 50 or over to get screened.

As part of the campaign, DOH is running ads in multiple media, including radio, TV, and social media. Ads will also appear in community newspapers, bus shelters and subways in communities with a high incidence of colon cancer. In the Capital Region, TV and radio ads will feature Peter Hooley, the captain from the UAlbany men's basketball team, whose mother died of colon cancer at the age of 52.

"Colon cancer doesn't always cause symptoms in the early stages, which is why regular screening is so important," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "For many people, screening can actually prevent cancer by identification and removal of precancerous lesions."

New York State is part of a national effort led by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable to have 80% of all average-risk New Yorkers screened for colon cancer by 2018. Although colon cancer can occur at any age, most people who develop the disease are over age 50. People who have a personal or family history of colorectal polyps (abnormal growths in the colon or rectum), colorectal cancer, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease are at higher risk for developing colorectal cancer. These individuals should talk to their doctors about screening options, when to begin screening and how often they should be tested.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women combined in New York, as well as in the United States. Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancers, which are both colon and rectal cancers, are the third most common cancers diagnosed in both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. In New York State, more than 9,000 people develop colorectal cancer each year and 3,300 New Yorkers die from the disease.

People with symptoms associated with colon cancer such as blood in the stool, stomach pain with changes in bowel movements, or weight loss without trying, should speak to their physician immediately. Regular screening is one of the best weapons against the disease, since most cases have no symptoms.

DOH Cancer Services Program offers colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screening to eligible uninsured individuals in every county and New York City borough. To find a local Cancer Services Program contractor near you, call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262) or visit