Event to raise awareness of the importance of screening to prevent colorectal cancer
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and UC Davis Health's Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology is joining advocacy groups to light the California Capitol blue. The effort includes an awareness rally, music, expert talks, a walkthrough of an inflatable colon and a blue flags display.
Colorectal Cancer is one of the most common cancers in America. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 52,550 Americans will die from the disease this year alone. Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.
“Light the Capitol Blue aims to raise awareness of how preventable, beatable, and treatable colorectal cancer is,” said Ronald K. Hsu, clinical professor of gastroenterology at UC Davis Health and governor for Northern California of the American College of Gastroenterology. “We advocate for equitable access to care and timely screenings, which can save lives and reduce the suffering caused by a diagnosis of colorectal cancer.”
What you should know about colon cancer
Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum. These cancers can also be called colon or rectal, depending on where they begin. Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps, or abnormal growths, in the colon or rectum. Such polyps can be present in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops.
The key symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- A change in bowel habits
- Blood in stool
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Diarrhea, constipation, or the feeling that the bowel doesn't empty completely
- Abdominal pain, aches, or cramps that don't go away
- Losing weight without knowing why
- Weakness or fatigue
Symptoms may not appear until the cancer has progressed. For this reason, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends various screening tests for adults aged 45 to 75 for colorectal cancer.
"A screening colonoscopy can prevent cancer by removing precancerous polyps before they become cancer," Hsu explained. "Colonoscopy is the only recommended test for patients considered high risk for developing colorectal cancer at a more frequent interval than patients of average risk."
Light the Capitol blue event
The Light the Capitol Blue event will take place on Thursday, March 9, from 12–5 p.m. on the west steps of the California State Capitol. Organizers will have a memorial display of blue flags on the west lawn. There will also be a giant colon that people can walk through, and providers will help educate residents about how to prevent and detect colon cancer early.
"I hope our community members will take the opportunity to meet with advocacy group leaders and health care experts to learn more about the risks of colorectal cancer," Hsu said. "They will be able to walk through the megacolon for an experience, take memorable photos with the 5,530 blue flags, and help spread the message of how to fight this common deadly cancer."
Light the Capitol Blue
An awareness rally to fight colorectal cancer
March 9, 2023, 12:00–5:00 p.m.
West Steps of the Capitol, 1315 10th Street Sacramento, CA