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Busting Colorectal Cancer Myths | Episode 1: ‘Detecting the Silent Cancer’ Series

Flint, Michigan


15 March 2023

What are the biggest myths about colorectal cancer? In Episode 1 of our “Detecting the Silent Cancer: Innovative Technologies for Colorectal Cancer Detection” series – presented by the Cancer Stage Shifting Initiative – Dr. Durado Brooks, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Screening at @ExactSciences, unravels facts vs. fiction.

Learn more on how you can help #ShiftCancer this #ColorectalCancerAwarenessMonth (and beyond) at http://www.shiftcancer.org/colon-cancer.

0:32 There are a number of myths about colorectal cancer.

0:35 One of the most prominent is people think, “Well, if nobody in my family had it, I don’t need to worry about it.” The reality is that most cases of colorectal cancer occur in people who don’t have a family history of the disease.

0:48 Another myth is that, “Well, if my bowels are moving okay, if I don’t see any blood when I’m moving my bowels, then I couldn’t have cancer.” Absolutely wrong. Unfortunately, a lot of people wait for symptoms to develop, but by the time colorectal cancer starts to cause symptoms, in many cases it’s started to get larger, and sometimes even to spread. So we don’t want to wait for symptoms to occur.

1:16 Another common myth is that colorectal cancer is a death sentence, and if you get it, you’re going to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The reality is we’ve seen a very steady drop in colorectal cancer cases and deaths over more than 20 years in the U.S., and that coincides with when we started seeing more people get screened for colorectal cancer. And that’s no coincidence. Screening works.

1:39 Screening tests like Cologuard and colonoscopy can find cancer early, when we’re able to treat it much more effectively. And also can find some growths called polyps that can turn into cancer, but we can find those with screening tests, and by finding and removing polyps, we keep cancer from occurring.

2:05 African-Americans have some of the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the United States and indeed in the world, and but these higher rates are in both black men and women. The other group that has high disease rates in the U.S. are Native Americans and Alaska natives. Black men and women are also more likely to die from colorectal cancer, and at least part of that is because of failures in the health care system.

2:46 Over the past 20 years or so, we’ve been seeing many more cases of colorectal cancer in younger people, even people as young as their 20s. And this is not just Blacks and not just Men, actually the rates are rising in young people of every race and ethnicity and gender.

3:09 Screening means you get checked when you feel fine, when you’re not having any sort of signs or symptoms of disease but you’ve just reached the age when the disease begins to start showing up. So for colorectal cancer, that’s age 45. So if you’re 45 or older and have not been screened yet, you’re putting yourself at risk.


National Minority Quality Forum is a research and educational organization dedicated to ensuring that high-risk racial and ethnic populations and communities receive optimal health care. This nonprofit, nonpartisan organization integrates data and expertise in support of initiatives to eliminate health disparities.

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