Colorectal Cancer is Second Leading Cause of Cancer Death in Washington
OLYMPIA, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 11, 2000--If Washington residents need one more reason to quit smoking or never start, the state Department of Health has one: It's called colorectal cancer, and it kills close to 1,000 men and women in our state eve
``The scientific link between cigarette smoking and colorectal cancer is increasing,'' said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. ``It's not just our diets and lack of exercise, but the use of tobacco that puts us at risk for colorectal cancer.''
A study of 27,000 people released last week by the National Cancer Institute shows that those with a long history of smoking were more likely to develop aggressive cancers of the colon and rectum. Here in Washington, 2,800 people develop colorectal cancer each year. It's the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer. While regular screening has been shown to reduce death from colorectal cancer, only 30 percent of people in our state meet the American Cancer Society's recommendations for screening.
``Since risk increases as we age, it's especially important to observe the screening guidelines beginning at age 50,'' said Juliet Van Eenwyk, acting state epidemiologist at the state health department. ``We don't know why people in our state don't meet the screening recommendations. Possible reasons may be that insurance doesn't cover the screening, physicians aren't recommending screening, and people don't follow up when screening is recommended.''
``Although genetics play a role in the development of some colorectal cancer, there's a lot people can do to protect themselves,'' Selecky said. ``Protecting yourself from this disease means doing moderate physical exercise, avoiding heavy alcohol use, and eating a low-fat diet that includes at least five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. It means never picking up a cigarette, and if you smoke, putting it down for good.''