1. Bean, Kathy B. PhD, RN, CGRN, APRN, BC

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Colorectal cancer (CRC), cancer of the colon and rectum, is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States for men and women combined. This year alone, over 56,000 people will die from the disease. But CRC is highly preventable, easy to treat, and often curable when detected early (

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To increase public attention to this preventable disease, the month of March has been designated Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. The campaign was launched in 2001 by the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation in collaboration with the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition, and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is observed in March of each year to generate widespread awareness about CRC and to encourage people to learn more about how to reduce their risk of the disease through a healthy lifestyle and regular screening.


The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc. (SGNA) is an active member of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), one of the supporting organizations for establishment of National Colorectal Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society (ACS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the Roundtable in 1997.


The NCCRT is a coalition of medical, professional, consumer advocacy, and voluntary organizations committed to raising awareness about the prevention and early detection of CRC. The Roundtable's ongoing mission is to reduce the incidence of and mortality from CRC by achieving screening rates for CRC that are equivalent to screening for other cancers. At the November 2004 National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable meeting, "Preventable. Treatable. Beatable!!" was adopted as the universal message for CRC screening and can be used in CRC awareness campaigns in 2005.


SGNA is also a proud partner in the Ninety-in-Nine Campaign, also established in 2001, by the Colorectal Cancer Network (CCN). The goal of this campaign is to have 90% of Americans screened for colon cancer, a 75% reduction in CRC incidence, and a 75% reduction in CRC deaths by 2010. As a professional member of the gastroenterology community, SGNA encourages gastrointestinal (GI) nurses to take an active role in sharing information and promoting awareness to other colleagues and the general public.


Cancer has just surpassed heart disease in the United States as the number one killer of Americans. This is a perfect "window of opportunity" for GI nurses to become intimately involved with promoting CRC awareness and screening. The average-risk person should receive CRC screening beginning at age 50. And people with a family history of CRC, hereditary polyposis, certain minorities (e.g., African Americans and Hispanics), and individuals with inflammatory bowel disease should start screening earlier in life (


My spouse and I have just scheduled our first screening colonoscopies this spring. My husband is due for screening based on his age. I am not yet 50 years of age, but I have a strong family history of CRC: my maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother both died of CRC. In addition, my father, who has routine CRC screening, has polyps removed upon every colonoscopy!! Because of my family history, I am choosing to commence routine screening earlier than the recommended 50 years of age. Incidentally, my gastroenterologist requires his patients to attend a group class on CRC screening prior to even scheduling the colonoscopy procedure. What a wonderful way to be sure the patient is fully aware of the purpose of the procedure and the importance of CRC screening.


March and National Colorectal Awareness Month provide a perfect opportunity for GI nurses to draw attention to our specialty through campaigns to promote CRC awareness to our colleagues and the public. I challenge you to collaborate with your GI and oncology colleagues in your practice areas to develop public awareness campaigns regarding CRC during the month of March. SGNA members have previously reported approaches such as placing CRC screening posters throughout their practice setting, setting up an awareness booth in the hospital cafeteria or lobby to give out information about CRC and facilitate scheduling screening appointments, and writing an article for a healthcare column in the local paper or a professional newsletter. Even writing a letter to the editor of your community newspaper and identifying yourself as a GI professional with a committed interest in the health of your community is a great start to preventing, treating, and beating CRC in the United States!!


To find out more about resources regarding CRC, you can contact the following organizations:


* American Cancer Society:


* Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation:


* Colon Cancer Alliance:


* Colorectal Cancer Network:


* Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates:



Let's get the word out. Colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable!!