A call to action: How we can improve on-time screenings

Founder Dr. Whitney JonesBy Dr. Whitney Jones, Colon Cancer Prevention Project Founder

The colon cancer community is making great strides with a shared national goal of 80% screening by 2018.

As we look at ways to reach this goal, the data clearly points to the need to change our communication strategy.

The facts are:

  • We don’t have good data on the number of people who are at an increased risk due to family history who receive on-time screening under the age of 50.
  • Screening rates are only 54% for normal risk individuals in the fifth decade (vs 74% on the 6th and 7th decades). Is this acceptable?
  • The perception that colon cancer only occurs in people over 50 results in delayed diagnosis and evaluation from both patients and physicians. Not to mention, colon and rectal cancer incidences are increasing in people under 50.
This is unacceptable.

So the glaring question is this: How do we address these facts in pursuit of our collective goal of reaching 80% screening in the next three years? And how do we ensure these screenings are on time?

It is paramount that we develop a more effective strategy that serves the goals of implementing our current screening strategy on-time.

Our national communication strategy is outdated, and this must be addressed. We challenge ourselves and our partners in the colon cancer community to improve and update our communication strategy based upon the aforementioned challenges and opportunities.

At a minimum, communication about screening should start at age 40. And not just to providers but to the general population as well. Currently, our communication strategy pushes – over and over again – age 50. It’s misleading, and it doesn’t emphasis enough the importance of on-time screening based upon risks and prompt evaluation of symptoms regardless of age.

The old communication strategy worked great for decades. But if we don’t adapt it now, we will lose momentum in our 80% by 2018 mission and beyond. More importantly, we’ll lose the chance to support a great screening and diagnostic strategy that we already have in place.

What are we waiting for? What is your plan?