Colon cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer related death. In the state of Georgia. Each year, there are 4,000 new cases of colorectal cancer and 1,400 colorectal cancer related deaths in the state. The death rate from colorectal cancer is highest in rural areas, especially in south Georgia.
Many of these deaths are preventable through appropriate screening. American College of Gastroenterology recommends screening for all adults over the age of 50 and earlier screening for people with close family history of early colon cancer or are otherwise high risk. Current guidelines recommend colonoscopy every 10 years, flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 year, or stool tests (FIT/FOBT) yearly.
With colonoscopy screening, precancerous lesions are removed and colon cancers are prevented. With the stool sample screening (with a yearly FIT/FOBT) test, colon cancers can be detected at a very early stage, even before patients have symptoms. Studies have shown a 61% decrease in colon cancer incidence and mortality when patients are appropriately screened.
In 2014, the National Colorectal Cancer Round Table, a subgroup of the American Cancer Association, has a goal to achieve 80% rate of screening by 2018. In March 2015, the Georgia Department of Public Health endorsed the 80% goal, and joined the movement, but there have been a few interventions, and no comprehensive statewide initiatives to increase screening. The largest comprehensive impact study of the 80% goal estimated an 18% decrease in colon cancer related deaths would be achieved within 2 years. It’s now 2018 and it’s very unlikely these rates have been achieved.
The most strikingly low screening rates are at federally qualified health centers, where only 30% eligible patients are getting screening, much lower than the state average of 68%. These clinics serve the most economically disadvantaged Americans with federal grant money. Patients pay for services on a graduated scale based on their income. In Georgia, there are 35 such clinics and collectively they take care of 457,000 patients.
At the URHU, we very close to kicking off the "Georgia Colon Cancer Prevention Project" to improve screening rates, prevent death related to colon cancer, and save lives. Our plan is to increase screening rates among the most destitute Georgians by partnering with Georgia’s federally qualified health centers. We will provide evidence based strategies to increase screening rates such as lectures, educational materials, and patient reminders.
We have funding to get the program started, but to make this initiative a state and nationwide success we need more support!
Please donate to help us defeat colon cancer. Remember every dollar you donate will go directly towards preventing colon cancer as our board members and other personnel are all volunteers.
Pan, J., Xin, L., Ma, Y.-F., Hu, L.-H., & Li, Z.-S. (2016). Colonoscopy Reduces Colorectal Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Patients With Non-Malignant Findings: A Meta-Analysis. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 111(3), 355–365. http://doi.org/10.1038/ajg.2015.418
“DPH Joins Movement to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates by 2018.” March 9, 2015. Georgia Dept of Public Health. https://dph.georgia.gov/blog/2015-03-09/dph-joins-movement-increase-colorectal-cancer-screening-rates-2018
Douglas K. Rex, MD, FACG, C. Richard Boland, MD, Jason A. Dominitz, MD, MHS. Colorectal Cancer Screening: Recommendations for Physicians and Patients from the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer Am J Gastroenterol advance online publication 6 June 2017; doi: 10.1038/ajg.2017
Meester, R. G. S., Doubeni, C. A., Zauber, A. G., Goede, S. L., Levin, T. R., Corley, D. A., … Lansdorp-Vogelaar, I. (2015). Public Health Impact of Achieving 80% Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates in the United States by 2018. Cancer, 121(13), 2281–2285. http://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.29336
“2016 National Health Center Data” Health Resources and Services Administration, US Dept of Health and Human Services. Accessed on 3/10/2016 https://bphc.hrsa.gov/uds/datacenter.aspx
McNamara C, Bayakly AR, Ward KC. Georgia Cancer Data Report, 2016. Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry, December 2016.