More New Jerseyans are being screened for colon cancer compared to 10 years ago, 65 percent, and still 57 percent of colorectal cancers in the Garden State are being detected at a later stage.

That's according to statistics from the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey.

"The five year survival rate across the board for colon cancer when it's localized is about 90 percent," said Surgical Oncologist Dr. Arnold Baskies, President of the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey. "All the more reason for people to make sure they get screened."

After the cancer has spread regionally to involve adjacent organs or lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate drops to 68 percent. For persons with distant metastases, the five-year survival is ten percent. Data shows the incidence of colorectal cancer in New Jersey has declined by 21.8 percent since the mid-1990s. Experts attribute the decline to increased screening rates.

"Colonoscopy should begin at age 50 unless there is some predisposing risk factor that increase the risk for an individual patient. It can discover something before it's malignant, before it's become a cancer and prevent the disease altogether," said Baskies. "Other tests include a barium enema with air contrast, a CTC scan and a fecal occult blood test."

"The good news is, people in New Jersey are taking advantage of the screening tools that are available, but a large percentage are still finding their colon cancers at a later stage. It's important that we start finding it earlier when survival rates are higher," said Baskies.

Yesterday, New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne passed away at age 77 after a long bout with colon cancer.