DEAR ABBY: America is making steady progress in the war against colon cancer. It's largely because of early detection and improved treatments. However, there's more to be done, and here is where I need your help.
Abby, colon cancer remains the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States, with about 50,000 deaths expected this year. The good news is that colon cancer is one of the two cancers (the other is cervical cancer) that can be prevented through regular screening. Colon cancer tests allow doctors to find and remove growths (called "polyps") before they become cancerous, thereby preventing cancer. Furthermore, these screening tests can also detect cancer at an earlier, more curable stage.
Unfortunately, many Americans still aren't getting lifesaving tests for colon cancer. Only four out of 10 Americans get the recommended screening. Therefore, only 39 percent of the new cases are found at an early stage, when a cure is most possible. A substantial number of the 50,000 deaths expected from colon cancer this year could have been avoided with wider use of proven screening tests.
As always, the American Cancer Society is here to offer help, including a free information kit to make it easy for people to talk to their doctor about colon cancer testing. -- ELMER E. HUERTA, M.D., PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
DEAR DR. HUERTA: Thank you for reminding me to remind my readers that March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. We all know that testing saves lives, and it is my hope that because of your letter, Dear Abby readers will become more aware of the importance of getting tested for colon cancer and will talk to their doctor about having the tests done beginning at age 50.
Readers, for more information about this important subject, call (800) 227-2345 or visit � HYPERLINK "http://www.cancer.org" ��www.cancer.org� anytime, day or night, and let the American Cancer Society help you stop colon cancer before it starts.