Tag Archive for: outreach

By Vanessa Seidner

The Colon Cancer Foundation and the 2024 Early-Age Onset Colorectal Cancer (EAO-CRC) Chair, Dr. Cathy Eng of the Young Adult Cancer Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, will be hosting the 8th Annual EAO-CRC Summit in Nashville, Tennessee, which will provide the grounds for discussions about the latest technological and medical advances, how to build community, and about what actions can be taken at various levels to address the rise in EAO-CRC. 

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer among men and women. This cancer occurs more often in the older population, yet there has been a rapid rise in CRC incidence among young people. Early-Age Onset (EAO) CRC refers to cases of colon or rectal cancer that occur in people under the age of 50 years. There has been an annual increase in these cases of approximately 2% since 2011.

Some of the best ways to prevent CRC or avoid unfavorable outcomes include on-time screening (starting at age 45 years – earlier if there are symptoms or family history), knowing the risk factors and family history, and consulting medical professionals when potential symptoms arise. One of the most effective ways to increase awareness of these solutions is through health education.

How Can We Encourage Health Education on EAO-CRC for College Students?

There are several opportunities to host educational events. The implementation of peer educators in colleges and universities is a cost-effective approach that allows students to impart valuable knowledge to their peers about meaningful and healthy lifestyle changes. While health outlooks differ, health education can be tailored to specific audiences to increase the likelihood that someone can reach and maintain their concept of optimal health. 

Health education events can appear as presentations, panels, tabling, and expositions. 

  • Presentations
      • Longer, more information-dense messaging
        • Can incorporate interactive questions and activities and pre/post surveys that allow participants to think critically about what they have learned and about how they will apply it to their lives moving forward. Information pamphlets and giveaways can also bolster interactivity. 
      • Key takeaways: Elaborate and in-depth, allows for active participation, and allows for future action to be taken.
  • Panels
      • Question and answer sessions. These can allow for an increased sense of closeness.
        • Panelists can provide a variety of perspectives germane to their topic
        • They can share anecdotes and experiences – personal, occupational, or both 
        • Specific contact information can be provided in case an audience member wishes to reach out to a panelist.
      • Key takeaways: Allows sharing of diverse viewpoints, opportunity for an open dialogue 
  • Tabling Events 
    • Drop-by event; can give quick overviews
    • Opportunity to share information pamphlets and giveaways
    • Can host activities to engage visitors in discussion and have giveaways
    • Key takeaways: Cost- and time-effective, succinct, and engaging – tabling events are a popular health education method                                                                                                   

Colleges and universities can host one or more of these events to increase awareness on risk factors, symptoms, the need to consult a medical professional if symptoms occur, and the importance of regular screening. As for timing, it is best to do so on days where there are not as many classes, in populous areas, and during a time of day when there is a higher influx of people, such as around a mealtime or when a certain timeblock for classes commonly ends. 

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Consider a tabling event with information about the disease and with some free merchandise. Students can also be encouraged to wear dark blue to increase awareness of CRC.

Reach out to us at info@coloncancerfoundation.org if you would like to partner on an information event in March or any other time!

 

Vanessa Seidner is a Colorectal Cancer Prevention Intern with the Colon Cancer Foundation.

Photo Source: Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

Fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) is a commonly used method for screening and diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC) in patients who are exhibiting typical signs and symptoms of the disease. FIT testing is widely used in preventing CRC as test kits can be mailed to patients to collect the sample and shipped back for laboratory analysis. This allows patients who may be ambivalent about more invasive testing to engage in a safe and effective preventative method in the comfort of their home. This form of testing, while an effective way of assessing and prioritizing patients with the highest risk, exhibits low levels of sensitivity (approximately 87%). 

Double FIT More Sensitive

In order to improve the sensitivity levels of FIT assessments, researchers from Scotland conducted two sequential, prospective cohort studies to measure and compare the sensitivity levels of both single and double FIT. Following a general practitioner referral, patients selected for the study were shipped either one or two FIT kits depending on their assigned study group, and results were analyzed following kit return. 

In the single FIT cohort, assessments were able to detect the presence of CRC with 84.1% sensitivity and advanced colorectal neoplasia with 64.4% sensitivity. These results were significantly lower than the sensitivity levels of the double FIT strategy, with this strategy being able to detect colorectal cancer with 96.6% sensitivity. Double FIT testing was also able to significantly improve detection of advanced colorectal neoplasia, with this strategy detecting disease at 81.6% sensitivity. 

This research reveals that double FIT may be an effective way to increase the accuracy of preventative testing measures, especially in symptomatic populations. 

While double FIT testing can provide increased accuracy and sensitivity when screening for CRC, obtaining two FIT submissions from patients is more difficult than obtaining a single test result. In this specific study, 22% of patients in the double FIT cohort only returned a single test, which reveals that this strategy may require innovative follow-up methods. 

A 2017 study by researchers within a hospital system in Texas found that mailed outreach literature and free testing kits increased rates of preventative screening measures, including FIT completion. In order to ensure that double FIT is an effective strategy, hospitals and clinics can develop and mail out literature that invites and encourages patients to complete two consecutive FIT’s tests. Other strategies could include social media, email, and notifications in patient portals.

 

Emma Edwards is a Colorectal Cancer Prevention Intern with the Colon Cancer Foundation.