When Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and Exact Sciences started discussing a unique collaboration to promote awareness and research in colorectal cancer screening, we knew there were many stakes. By the end of 2020, not only has Covid-19 surged across the country, but as people postpone routine medical appointments, cancer screening rates have also fallen. In addition, we were-and still-are plagued by chronic inequalities that have burdened communities of color with the burden of the pandemic. The similarities between the differences in Covid-19 and the inequalities we have seen in cancer outcomes for decades—especially in certain cancer types (such as colorectal cancer)—are obvious and unacceptable .
Most importantly, the death of a well-known actor with early-onset colorectal cancer has caused an alarming increase in the nation’s attention to the disease among young people.
So, we ask ourselves: How can our organization use our collective power to function?
Our answer is bold Multi-pronged, Supported by Exact Sciences’ unrestricted grant to SU2C, makes colorectal cancer prevention more mainstream, focusing on communities that are traditionally underserved by our medical system. We simply do not see more people being affected by colorectal cancer, which is one of the most preventable cancers through routine screening. If detected early, 90% of people can survive.
Combining cutting-edge research, collaboration with advocacy groups, and compelling awareness efforts aimed at covering different stakeholder groups in underserved communities and healthcare providers, we are delivering a clear message: colorectal cancer screening can Save lives.
The research we propose to support will include a “dream team” of researchers selected by SU2C in institutions that provide services to underserved communities. By identifying the unique local needs of these areas, and defining and measuring tailored interventions (including the provision of free screening) that meet these needs, the Dream Team will transform participating high-risk communities into those with a high incidence of colorectal cancer “Face the cancer zone” cancer screening.
Our goal of increasing screening is in line with the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) and its 80% In Every Community campaign, which is committed to ensuring that at least 80% of eligible adults receive regular colorectal cancer screenings. Since the NCCRT launched its activities in 2019, this outstanding multi-stakeholder approach has resulted in more than 1,700 organizations working towards this common goal. This is exactly the collaboration and holistic thinking needed to increase screening and save lives.
In order to achieve this goal and exponentially reduce the number of new and deadly colorectal cancers, we must have a broader understanding of the benefits and options of screening. Efforts to raise awareness need to focus on sharing information about colorectal cancer screening options and the importance of prioritizing screening.
Although we know that screening can save lives, one-third of adults are still not screened-this is a typical year. The past year was not typical. For example, before and after the start of the stay-at-home order related to the pandemic in 2020, the total number of colonoscopy has dropped by 90%.
Although we are now seeing a rebound in screening rates, the medical community still needs to continue its efforts to encourage patients to learn about colorectal cancer screening in a timely manner, while also trying to increase the number of screenings that are usually performed in non-pandemic settings. To this end, we must ensure that patients are informed of all recommended screening tests. It is important that the US Preventive Services Task Force reduces the recommended screening age from 50 to 45. Screening options include office and home options, which can meet the specific needs and preferences of each person, especially during the current pandemic. On-site appointments may be more difficult to arrange and cause greater anxiety. In our opinion, the best filtering option is the finished option.
Raising awareness of colorectal cancer screening in underserved communities is essential for any organization dedicated to improving health equity. We hope that other collaborators, including community advocacy groups, healthcare companies and delivery systems, and insurance companies, will join us to help push this movement forward and influence real change.
As we continue to deal with the complex challenges of healthcare inequality that has increased due to the global pandemic, one thing is clear to those of us engaged in cancer research and treatment-too many people continue to lose their lives due to colorectal cancer And cancer of loved ones. Moving towards the post-Covid-19 environment, we must use the innovation and motivation of the healthcare community required by the pandemic to solve another crisis: delayed screening leads to an increase in the burden of colorectal cancer. Together, we can reverse the trend of colorectal cancer and build a country where people will not die from preventable, treatable and viable diseases if it is detected early.
Photo: Gerasimov174, Getty Images