Colon cancer rates continued to plummet in the years between 2001 and 2010, a new study shows. The American Cancer Society’s recent study of colon cancer rates shows there were 3 per cent fewer cases over that time period.
Colon cancer has been in decline for some time now. Rates dipped 2 per cent in the 1990s, with a major turnaround beginning in the 1980s. That’s when physicians became more aggressive in encouraging patients to undergo examinations that could detect early onset of colon cancer.
According to American Cancer Society chief medical officer Otis Brawley, without that aggressive screening “we’d be seeing twice as many deaths today.” Brawley added that the American Cancer Society’s most recent study reveals “the fact that we’ve almost halved the mortality rate from colon cancer in the last 35 years.”
Unsurprisingly, older Americans represent the age group most visibly affected by the drop in colon cancer rates. Evidence shows that, among Americans over age 65, the number of new colon cancer cases dropped 7 per cent a year between 2008 and 2010.
Dr. James Church, a colorectal cancer surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, says it’s important patients and doctors keep up the vigilant fight against colon cancer.
“With colon cancer, it’s not so much screening to find early cancers but screening to find polyps and remove them, which prevents cancer,” Church said.
The drop in colon cancer cases is good news but there’s still lots of ground to cover. Colon cancer remains one of the most common types of cancer in the world, and claims about 50,000 lives in the United States each year. It’s expected that roughly 135,000 new cases will be discovered over the course of 2014.