The North Dakota Cancer Coalition (NDCC), a champion for improving prevention and screening for colorectal cancer, secured a state proclamation from Governor Doug Burgum to raise awareness for colorectal cancer during March, Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
NDCC is one of the thousands of advocates from across the United States who are raising awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer. By securing Governor Burgum’s support through a proclamation, the cause is elevated all across North Dakota and the message about getting screened for a preventable disease goes further.
Colorectal cancer is the second most diagnosed and second leading cause of cancer death in North Dakota for men and women combined. It is often thought of as a disease that only affects older people. But the face of colorectal cancer is changing. Over the past four decades colorectal cancer has been steadily increasing in young people, and by 2030, it is on track to become the number one cancer killer of people ages 20-49.
While about two-thirds of people ages 50 to 75 in North Dakota and the United States are up to date with colorectal cancer screening, the percentage among Native Americans is fewer than half. Colorectal cancer is unique in that if it is detected early through screening, it can be prevented completely, or effectively treated through surgery and/or chemotherapy and radiation. But the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted colorectal cancer screening across the country, and we have not returned to pre-COVID-19 screening rates. Unfortunately, lower rates of routine cancer screenings lead to delayed diagnosis and increased cancer death.
Declaring March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is one concrete step our state has taken to not only raise awareness and help prevent this disease, but also to honor the families in our state who have been impacted by this cancer.