Special Spotlight: Colorectal Cancer
March is recognized as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Despite having a general survival rate of almost 65% and a decline in occurrence, colon and rectum cancer represents 8.6% of all new cancer cases in the United States. Colon and rectum cancer is also the second leading cause of U.S. cancer deaths. Even more troubling for our underserved populations, African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates of any racial and ethnic group for this particular type of cancer, followed closely by Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Asians/Pacific Islanders. For colorectal cancer, death rates increase with age. It is vitally important to be proactive in getting screened to increase chances of catching the cancer at an early stage. Additionally, there is a wealth of information available on preventative and research-based efforts being conducted to combat the negative effect of colorectal cancer.
In light of this, CRCHD would like to recognize the contributions of NIH/NCI-supported researchers through their research, prevention, and training initiatives aimed specifically at addressing the disparate effect that cancer has on our underserved populations.
CRCHD's Community Networks Program Centers (CNPC) is involved in community-based participatory research interventions. CNPC-Southern California, under the leadership of Dr. Sora Park Tanjasiri, seeks to tailor educational resources to meet the needs of a specific ethnic group—Pacific Islanders, and specifically, Native Hawaiians and the Marshallese—of whom only about 61% receive any type of cancer screening exam for colorectal cancer. All of the resources were adapted to integrate with Pacific Islander local knowledge regarding health and illness, and each was translated into four Islander languages, increasing the effectiveness of wide dissemination.
Dr. Moon Chen, the Principal Investigator of CNPC-Northern California, and his team of researchers have developed intervention strategies to understand the barriers to and best methods for increasing colorectal screening among Vietnamese Americans. The results from their intervention help guide how to better serve this specific population that has a definite need for improved screening practices.
Chyke Doubeni, M.D., M.P.H., a recipient of CRCHD's Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) mentored career development award, focuses his research on issues related to colorectal cancer outcomes. In his work, he identified a potentially modifiable web of system-level factors that contributes to colorectal cancer disparities, including economic circumstances, minority status, accumulated risk, neighborhood location, educational background, type of health insurance, and even the specialty of an individual's primary care doctor.
At CNPC-Lower Yakima Valley, Dr. Beti Thompson and her colleagues have found that the Hispanic/Latino population in that region invites a more personalized approach when being encouraged to participate in colorectal screening. The families welcomed CNPC researchers into their homes to have intimate discussions about colorectal cancer and the importance of getting screened. Valuable information has been put directly in the necessary hands due to this unique and intensive effort.
Please be encouraged to further educate yourself on the topic of colorectal cancer. The links below will assist you with learning more about statistics, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention: