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Milwaukee Landmarks Go Blue for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month as Cancer Incidence Increases Among Younger Adults

Milwaukee, March 1, 2023 – March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This year, the observance is receiving increased recognition at the city, county, and state levels through proclamations from Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, County Executive David Crowley, and Governor Tony Evers.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Dr. Charles Rogers, MCW associate professor and director of community outreach & engagement at MCW’s Cancer Center Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson presents Dr. Charles Rogers, Medical College of Wisconsin associate professor and director of community outreach & engagement at MCW’s Cancer Center, with a proclamation declaring March Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Throughout March, the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Cancer Center’s Community Outreach & Engagement team is spearheading efforts to increase awareness of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening and prevention. This includes partnering with prominent Milwaukee institutions to light the city blue. The MCW Cancer Center is also encouraging people to wear blue on Friday, March 3, to ignite a broader conversation about colorectal cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates approximately 153,000 new cases (2,650 in Wisconsin) and nearly 53,000 deaths (880 in Wisconsin) from colorectal cancer this year. While incidence rates have generally declined since the mid-1980s, they have increased by 1%-2% per year in individuals younger than age 50 since the mid-1990s. Adults 45 and older should talk with their health care provider about CRC screening, which may need to start at an earlier age if a parent, sibling, or child has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or have had polyps removed.

“The screening age for individuals with average risk was lowered as several studies have shown that rates of colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 have consistently been on the rise,” said Charles Rogers, PhD, MPH, MS, MCHES, associate professor at MCW and associate director of community outreach & engagement for MCW’s Cancer Center. “Starting routine screening for colorectal cancer at age 45, rather than 50, would decrease U.S. cancer deaths from this preventable, beatable, and treatable disease by as much as 11,100 over 5 years.”

Barriers to cancer screening, treatment, and survivorship care impact some populations more than others. According to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, Black/African Americans have the highest mortality rate and second-highest incidence rate of colorectal cancer in the U.S. Hispanic/Latino men and women are slightly less likely to be diagnosed with localized disease compared to non-Hispanic Whites, 33% versus 35%, respectively. If found early, CRC can often be successfully treated – the 5-year survival rate is about 90% for colorectal cancers detected in their earliest stage.

Furthermore, research shows that overall cancer screening rates declined during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Cancer Institute estimates 9.4 million screening tests that would have normally taken place in the U.S. in 2020 didn’t happen. This puts more people at risk of receiving later stage diagnoses.

Joining the MCW Cancer Center to raise awareness of CRC, several landmarks across Milwaukee are lighting their exteriors blue. Key dates and locations include:

March 3
Wisconsinites encouraged to wear blue to spread awareness of CRC

March 3-10
Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge

March 3-5
Marcus Performing Arts Center
Lakefront Brewery's “Kegnado”
Hyatt Regency Milwaukee
600 East Café
Discovery World
The Historic Pritzlaff Building
Wisconsin Gas Building
U.S. Bank Center

March 5-11
Mitchell Park Domes

All month
Alverno College
Progressive Community Health Center

Additionally, the MCW Cancer Center Community Outreach & Engagement team will host education sessions in the community and provide culturally relevant resources to increase knowledge of CRC and the screening options available.

For the latest information, follow the MCW Cancer Center on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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