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March: National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Mar 6, 2024

Dr. A. Elizabeth Martin
Dr. A. Elizabeth Martin

Deming, NM – According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer ranks as the third most frequently diagnosed cancer globally. While early detection is critical, the disease is rising among younger individuals according to the latest report from the American Cancer Society (ACS). 

The proportion of advanced-stage colorectal cancer diagnoses in the U.S. rose from 52% in the mid-2000s to 60% in 2019. Additionally, diagnoses among those under 55 doubled from 11% in 1995 to 20% in 2019. In 2023, an estimated 153,020 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S., leading to 52,550 deaths. 

 March marks National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and prevention.

Colorectal cancer originates in the cells of the colon or rectum. Typically, it arises from precancerous polyps, and timely detection can halt its advancement. About half of colorectal cancers in the U.S. are attributed to these modifiable behaviors:

  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Eating very few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Not eating enough foods with calcium
  • Consuming too much red or processed meat
  • Being physically inactive
  • Smoking for many years
  • Carrying excess body weight 

One in 24 individuals will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime. Detecting cancer before it spreads allows for more treatment options. Colorectal cancer is largely preventable through regular screening. The ACS recommends people begin screening at age 45.

Dr. Beth Martin, General Surgeon at Mimbres Memorial Hospital emphasizes the urgency of proactive screening for colorectal cancer, stating, “With colorectal cancer diagnoses on the rise, especially among younger individuals, we must prioritize early detection through regular screening. Identifying the disease in its early stages significantly improves treatment outcomes and can save lives.”

Some people may experience signs and symptoms early, but that is not always true. Colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms right away.  However, if it does, people may experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
  • Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
  • Blood in the stool, which might make the stool look dark brown or black
  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss

The latest data underscores the critical importance of early detection and proactive screening in combating this disease. By raising awareness about risk factors, promoting healthy lifestyle choices, encouraging timely screening, and understanding how your family health history plays a role, we can work together to reduce colorectal cancer and save lives. There is no need to wait until you have symptoms. Early detection can prevent more invasive treatment and help you live a healthy life. Schedule a screening today at 575-543-7200 or

Dr. Beth Martin is a General Surgeon at Mimbres Valley Medical Group/Deming Surgical Services. To find out more about Dr. Martin and Deming Surgical Services, please visit

Mimbres Valley Medical Group  

Mimbres Valley Medical Group provides General Surgery, Cardiology, Sports Medicine, Orthopedics and Podiatry preventative outpatient care and surgical services to southwestern New Mexico. Mimbres Valley Medical Group is located on campus at Mimbres Memorial Hospital 905 South 8th Street Suite A. Patients can make appointments either through the central scheduling at 575-543-7200 or online at