Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the 3rd most common cancer and the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. More than 620,000 people die each year from CRC and the number is growing. More than 1.2 million people are diagnosed with CRC annually. Despite these statistics, CRC remains the most preventable major cancer through screening. Despite the cost effectiveness of screening and the availability of proven screening tools, the incidence rate CRC is expected to increase by 33.5% by 2020.
In most countries around the world, there are no CRC screening programs, barriers exist for access to treatments and there is no patient voice to effectuate change. Similarly, cancer patients have little to no support. Even in developed and developing countries, CRC remains a huge problem. In the US, one-third of the number of people who should be screened are not getting tested and in Europe the problem is far worse. There are 136 million Europeans eligible for CRC screening yet only 12 million have participated. While Europe accounts for only 11% of the world population, it accounts for about one-third of all CRC deaths worldwide.
CRC is increasing in economically transitioning countries, including Eastern Europe, most of Asia, and in select countries in South America. CRC incidence rates worldwide have increased in 27 of 51 international cancer registries studied by the IARC. Very few other countries have formal screening programs, coverage for testing or awareness programs to educate the public about the disease and how it can be prevented or access to available treatments.
Awareness of the disease, its reach, its ability to be prevented and its treatability if caught early, are the keys to changing the global problem of colon cancer.
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