The second-deadliest and most preventable cancer

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month

When you turn 50 these days, three things generally happen: you ‘re invited to join AARP, a “friend” gives you a birthday card that makes you sound really old, and your doctor tells you it’s time to be screened for colorectal cancer.

You may be surprised to know that colorectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer after lung cancer, but also the most preventable form of cancer. Screening lets your health care provider find and remove polyps before they turn cancerous, or to catch them in an early stage when the disease is most treatable. You might also be surprised to learn that most insurance plans cover 100 percent of the cost of screening with no co-pays or deductibles. Check with your insurance company to confirm coverage.

Screening should start at age 50 (age 40 for Alaska Native people). If your health care provider does not find any polyps, it may be 10 years before you need to be screened again. If precancerous polyps are found and removed, then you can be thankful that they were found early and a serious cancer may have been prevented.

After you are screened, please share your story with people you know. Most people say they made the decision to be screened because someone they know encouraged them. Talk to your family about screening too. If you have polyps, there is a slightly higher chance that your siblings or your children might have the same.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Take time to talk with people you know about colorectal cancer screening. You can find more information at: or email us at

So talk to your health care provider about colorectal cancer screening. You’ll be glad you did. And remember, colorectal cancer is The Cancer YOU Can Prevent.

Judith Muller is the Cancer Plan Coordinator for the Division of Community Health Services, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.