GREAT FALLS — March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance estimates nearly 150,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States this year. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer usually begins as a polyp, or non-cancerous growth, that develops on the inner lining of the colon. It typically grows slowly over years.
In Montana, colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed and the third most common cancer-related death. An average of 498 cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed in Montana each year. An average of 178 Montanans die each year from the disease.
Colorectal cancer is personal for Montana This Morning anchor Shannon Newth’s family. Her father, Dr. Richard Newth, died of a very aggressive form of colorectal cancer in 2010. He was a young, healthy doctor, the youngest of four brothers. There was no history of cancer in the family.
Shannon wants to use her family’s story to help raise awareness. She talked with Lacey Gallagher, the Cascade City-County Health Department and Montana Cancer Control Program Health Education Specialist, about risk factors, signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer, and various screening options.