During the next decade, 50 Del Norte County residents will die from a largely preventable disease.

The cause of their deaths - colorectal cancer - is hardly unique to our county. Every year, colorectal cancer kills 55,783 Americans, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Indeed, it's now the second leading cause of cancer in the United States, outpacing both breast and prostate cancer.

Compounding the problem is recent news that nearly 42 million Americans have not been screened for colorectal cancer. If they were, however, most long illnesses and deaths from this disease could be avoided.

Both men and women should begin regular screening for colorectal cancer at age 50. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps that then are removed before they turn into cancer. Even if cancer has set in, if caught early enough there is a good chance for a complete recovery.

Talk to your doctor about getting a colorectal screening during that next annual checkup. Neither you nor your family deserve to suffer through a long battle with cancer.