Mar 08, 2017 9:00 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah is partnering with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to implement a nationwide colorectal cancer outreach and education initiative in support of increasing colorectal cancer screening rates in rural, frontier, and culturally diverse communities in Utah. The Screen to Save Initiative will launch in March at HCI and 48 other cancer centers around the nation, targeting average risk adults age 50 and older.

HCI will work with clinical, academic, and community associates in outreach and educational activities across the state of Utah. The outreach events will incorporate a giant inflatable colon – an evidence-based colorectal cancer educational tool.

“We look forward to building upon our existing networks to further HCI’s reach and spread this important message,” said Ana Maria Lopez, MD, MPH, medical oncologist and director of cancer health equity at HCI. “We will engage communities through social media, telecommunications technology, and community outreach activities, such as health fairs and group presentations.”

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common adult cancer and is one of only a handful of more than 100 known types of cancer for which screening has been proven to reduce the risk of death. Screening options include colonoscopy, fecal occult blood testing, fecal immunochemical testing, and sigmoidoscopy.

“The key message we want to convey through this initiative is that colorectal cancer screening saves lives,” said Lopez. “The average person should begin screening at age 50 and continue until age 75. Screening can reduce the number of colorectal cancer deaths in our state by identifying cancer early when it is easier to treat.”

Increasing colorectal screening rates in the United States is part of the 10 recommendations by the Blue Ribbon Panel for the Cancer Moonshot Initiative. The panel considered colorectal cancer screening to be a national priority that should be fast-tracked by the cancer research and care communities, citing it as a proven prevention strategy that is currently being adopted by too few people, especially racial and ethnic minorities.

“NCI feels it is vitally important to strengthen our regional and national outreach efforts for screening for colorectal cancer by partnering with academic, community, and clinical organizations,” said Douglas Lowy, MD, NCI acting director. “By reducing the number of people who get colorectal cancer, or are progressing to a lethal, difficult-to-treat form of the disease, we can have a major impact on the number of lives lost to the disease annually as well as save many health care dollars that would otherwise have to be dedicated to costly cancer treatments.”

The NCI Screen to Save Initiative will involve nationally-funded sites that support community health educators who will disseminate culturally-tailored education to increase awareness, knowledge, and positive behavior change to increase screening rates among targeted groups.

Media Contact

Heather Simonsen
Public Relations – Huntsman Cancer Institute
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801 581-3194

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About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah is the official cancer center of Utah and the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Mountain West. The campus includes a state-of-the-art cancer specialty hospital and two buildings dedicated to cancer research. Huntsman Cancer Institute provides patient care, cancer screening, and education at community clinics and affiliate hospitals throughout the Mountain West. It is consistently recognized among the best cancer hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The region’s first proton therapy center opened in 2021 and a major hospital expansion is underway. Huntsman Cancer Institute is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment for staff, students, patients, and communities. Advancing cancer research discoveries and treatments to meet the needs of patients who live far away from a major medical center is a unique focus. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at Huntsman Cancer Institute than at any other cancer center, including genes responsible for breast, ovarian, colon, head and neck cancers, and melanoma. Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

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