Cancer Prevention

  • Colorectal cancer is preventable.
  • Colorectal cancer is treatable.
  • Colorectal cancer is beatable.

Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in United States1 and impacts communities throughout Virginia. Colorectal cancer usually begins as a non-cancerous polyp on the inner lining of the colon, some polyps become cancerous while others do not.2 Screening may help detect and remove polyps before they become cancerous. Although screening is an effective means of removing precancerous polyps, nearly 1 in 3 Americans meeting screening recommendation guidelines do not utilize these services.3 In addition to screening, lifestyle modifications such as increased physical activity and improved dietary habits may help prevent colorectal cancer from developing.4

Increased screening rates and having healthy lifestyles are essential to reducing the public health burden of colorectal cancer. Virginia Cooperative Extension is in an ideal position to be a key player in this effort. To this end, Extension has joined the national effort to increase colorectal cancer screening rates to 80% in every community. Extension Agents are increasing awareness of colorectal cancer, promoting colorectal cancer screening, and encouraging lifestyles that reduce cancer risk by conducting the Colon Cancer Free Zone program in worksites in their service communities.

1 ACS Cancer Statistics Center

2 ACS, How Does Colorectal Cancer Start

3 NCCRT, 80% by 2018 Resource Packet

4 ACS, Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors

  • All VCE employees will know how colorectal cancer screening saves lives.
  • All VCE employees will know what screening options are available, and the screening guidelines.
  • By June 2018, VCE will have an 80% screening rate among employees between the ages of 50 and 74 years.
  • All VCE employees will know what the lifestyle recommendations are for reducing colorectal cancer risk.  An environment of health will be promoted in VCE employees throughout the Commonwealth.

Five Myths About Colorectal Cancer:  

Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man’s disease.

Truth: Colorectal cancer is almost as common among women as men. Each year in the U.S., about 71,000 men and 64,000 women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Myth: Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented.

Truth: In many cases, colorectal cancer can be prevented. Colorectal cancer almost always starts with a small growth called a polyp. If the polyp is found early, it can be removed – stopping colorectal cancer before it starts.

Myth: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting colorectal cancer.

Truth: Most colorectal cancers are found in people age 50 and older. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk start getting checked for this cancer when they’re 50.

Myth: It’s better not to get tested for colorectal cancer because it’s deadly anyway.

Truth: Colorectal cancer is often highly treatable. If it’s found and treated early (while it’s small and before it has spread), the 5-year relative survival rate is about 90%. But because many people are not getting tested the way they should, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Source: American Cancer Society

  • Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. yet it can be prevented or detected at an early stage.
  • There are several screening options available to detect colorectal cancer, including simple take-home options. Talk to your doctor about getting screened.
  • Preventing colon cancer or finding it early doesn’t have to be expensive. There are simple, affordable tests available. Get Screened! Call your doctor today.
  • Most health insurance plans cover lifesaving preventive tests. Use the benefits you are paying for to get screened for colon cancer. Call your doctor today.

Source: National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable

The Colon Cancer Free Zone program (CCFZ) is a program conducted by Extension Agents in worksites to increase awareness of the preventable nature of colorectal cancer, and promote colorectal cancer screening.  CCFZ is designed using best practice principles of worksite health programs and includes information sessions covering the topics of colorectal cancer, screening guidelines, insurance coverage, and preventive lifestyle behaviors.  It is conducted in a campaign format that includes a strategic communication strategy targeting relevant screening barriers and facilitators, peer champions, and incentives.  Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for more information and to bring the program to your worksite.

CCFZ In-Service Training for Extension Agents

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80% by 2018 Emblem

Upcoming Webinars

"Taking the Fight to Colorectal Cancer: Latest advanced in early detection and treatment"

Presented by Dr. Khalid Matin, Medical Director, Community Oncology and Clinical Research Affiliation, VCU Massey Cancer Center

Date: March 7, 12:00 noon
Access code: 647 581 016

Past Webinars

Note: We've experienced issues with WebEx recordings playing in Firefox. If you get an error in Firefox, please try using a different browser, e.g., Chrome or Safari.

• Get the Facts: Breast Cancer
Presented by Dr. Young Ju, associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise

Breast cancer prevention and control: Key messages your community needs to hear
Presented by Kristin Harris, executive director of the Central Virginia affiliate of Susan G. Komen; and Carlin Rafie, Extension specialist with VCE

• Get moving to reduce your colorectal cancer risk

• Have your cake and eat it too: Decreasing your colorectal cancer risk through smart food choices


• Colorectal Cancer: What is it, and how do I get screened?
Presented by Dr. Farrel Adkins, specialist in colorectal surgery, Carilion Healthcare; and
Dr. John Michos, medical director, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield


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Carlin Rafie
Adult Nutrition Specialist