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Colorectal Cancer Screening - Reaching 80%
colorectal cancer screening

By Tara Lucero, BSN, RN, CTR and Vicky Lauseng, RHIT, CTR

March is upon us and it is once again time to shine the spotlight on colorectal cancer screening and awareness. The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable campaign “80% by 2018” aims to reach 80 percent of adults 50 and older for colorectal cancer screenings by the end of the year. In 2014, NCCRT recognized that hitting this milestone would prevent 277,000 new cases of colon cancer and 203,000 deaths within 20 years. 

This campaign has steadily brought the colorectal cancer screening rates up from 34.5 percent in 2014 to 39.9 percent in 2016. So, let’s all work together in our communities and give 2018 the momentum that is needed to reach the 80 percent goal!


First and foremost, start with yourself and your family. The American Cancer Society recommends that starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests below:


  • Colonoscopy Every 10 Years
  • CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy) Every 5 Years
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Every 5 Years
  • Double-Contrast Barium Enema Every 5 Years
  • Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) Every Year
  • Guaiac-Based Fecal Occult Blood Test (Gfobt) Every Year
  • Stool DNA Test (Cologuard) Every 3 Years 
Knowing your personal and family health history can help save your life. You may need to start colorectal cancer screening before age 50 if you are at an increased risk because of the following:
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps.
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).
  • A strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
  • A known family history of a hereditary colorectal syndrome.

Although it may seem like an odd conversation to have with your family, start out by stating you are taking charge of your personal health and explain that knowing family history may change the age at which you need to start getting screened. Talking with your family about colorectal cancer screening will open up the dialogue that may be necessary to encourage them to get screened. When you’ve got an adequate family history, be sure to take time to discuss with your doctor the type and frequency of screenings you will need going forward.

Once you’ve got yourself and your family squared away, you can help the 80% goal by turning to your community. It may be as simple as displaying the blue ribbon that is synonymous with colorectal cancer awareness, or as bold as contacting your local cancer coalition and offering to speak about your experiences with screening or how colorectal cancer has affected you or your loved ones. Also, check with your local cancer coalition to see if there are behind-the-scenes volunteer opportunities like helping with the paperwork that usually goes with free non-invasive screening efforts.

There are still nine more months to make “80% by 2018” successful. Let’s get out there and make a difference in our families and communities because screening saves lives!

What are you doing to promote colorectal cancer screening?

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