NEWS

Stand Up To Cancer Receives Grant to Promote Colorectal Cancer Awareness

In focus close up of a blue ribbon for colon cancer awareness being held up by an unseen person in a white coat with a stethoscope.

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Key Takeaways

  • Colorectal cancer rates are rising in young people, especially minority populations.
  • Early detection and diagnosis of colorectal cancer improve survival rates, but minority communities often lack access to health services.
  • For National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Stand Up To Cancer and Exact Sciences are teaming up to promote routine colorectal cancer screenings in minority populations.

Stand Up To Cancer has received a $10 million grant from Exact Sciences, a leading developer of cancer screening tests, to promote colorectal cancer screenings in minority populations. The campaign will begin in March to coincide with National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to do something different,” Paul Limburg, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Screening at Exact Sciences, tells Verywell. “The National Colorectal Roundtable has set a goal of 80% compliance with colorectal cancer screening. It varies in different populations, but right now, about one-third [who meet the criteria] are not screening."

Colorectal Cancer in Minority Communities


Sung Poblete, PhD, RN
, CEO of Stand Up To Cancer, tells Verywell that Black people have the highest colorectal cancer rates of any ethnic group in the United States. They are 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and 40% more likely to die from it than any other population.

Sung Poblete, PhD, RN

We believe it is incumbent on the medical community to create a system that helps all patients.

— Sung Poblete, PhD, RN

While screening is one of the most vital tools for helping people survive colorectal cancer, only 59% of Hispanic people and 66% of Black people who meet the criteria are up-to-date with these screenings (compared to 69% of the White population).

Barriers to Diagnosis and Treatment

Colon cancer treatment has a 90% success rate in the early stages of the disease, but minorities often receive a diagnosis later in the disease process.

“We know colorectal cancer is treatable and survivable if caught early, and screening is important in preventing colorectal cancer death,” Poblete says. “We believe it is incumbent on the medical community to create a system that helps all patients.”

This includes ensuring that minority communities have access to colorectal cancer screening. “We all know that socioeconomic status is the most critical factor affecting health and longevity,” Poblete says, citing financial barriers, lack of health insurance, perceptions about cancer, inequities in access to care, and conflicting information. “These are long-standing issues that will require a great deal of resources and collaboration across our communities.”

Goals of the Initiative

Limburg says that the objective of the new campaign is to raise awareness about colorectal cancer prevention and early detection in minority communities.

Sung Poblete, PhD, RN

Increasing awareness is critical to this movement. We want people to recognize that one simple step can save their lives.

— Sung Poblete, PhD, RN

“The community has taken a one-size-fits-all perspective, so where there are education outreach efforts, there is not a target to specific communities,” Limburg says. “Exact Sciences is committed to finding better ways to prevent and treat cancer.”

Various options exist for colorectal cancer screening, and Limburg says there is a need for more personalized outreach. “Even if people are aware they should be screened, sometimes the screening methods may not be the right ones for them, or individuals may have questions and concerns," he says. "We will be working with populations to understand how they view the available options.”

Poblete stresses that home colorectal screenings are available for many individuals and that the COVID-19 pandemic should not be a barrier to colorectal cancer screenings for anyone. “There are tests that individuals can take at home, and it’s a healthcare solution during the pandemic. We’ve got to make it easier for all patients to get screened."

What Will the Campaign Include?

The campaign will incorporate public service announcements, social media posts, hands-on community outreach, and support to young people in minority communities who want to pursue public health careers.

Media Outreach

“The first step is for us to launch a public service announcement campaign in both English and Spanish with culturally sensitive language,” Poblete says. “Increasing awareness is critical to this movement. We want people to recognize that one simple step can save their lives.”

The campaign will utilize many different forms of technology, including broadcast television, radio, and social media. “We have to take a look at these methods and go where the people are," Poblete says. "There are technologies out there that we can leverage, and we should."

Stand Up To Cancer also plans to launch a microsite along with their print and media campaign. The site will provide visitors with information on colorectal cancer screening, guidance to reduce colorectal cancer risk, and a virtual quiz about colorectal cancer.

Community Outreach

Later in March, Stand Up To Cancer plans to announce a multicultural and multidisciplinary “Dream Team” of researchers, clinicians, and local leaders who will be active in their communities, work with the public, and accomplish the initiative’s goals.

Poblete says that many people in minority groups fear seeing healthcare providers, and Stand Up To Cancer believes that the Dream Team members can reach these individuals. “This issue of trust is something we are taking into consideration," she says. "We will have advocates within the Dream Team who can talk to individuals who may be interested in getting screened. I feel confident in the team that we select.”

Reaching out to and supporting the next generation of healthcare leaders who are part of minority communities is another priority for the initiative. “Within the Dream Team, we will have fellowships for minority individuals who we expect to be the next leaders in health equity or research,” Poblete says. “In essence, we’re creating that pipeline so that when you have a diverse patient population, you also have a diverse representation in the care community.”

What This Means For You

Colorectal cancer disproportionately affects people in minority communities. While early detection and treatment can help people with colorectal cancer live longer, people in minority groups often do not have access to these vital health services.

In March, a campaign from Stand Up To Cancer and funded by Exact Sciences will work to promote screenings in minority communities as well as support young people who may want to pursue public health careers as part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

To learn more about colorectal cancer, visit https://standuptocancer.org/coloncancer.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. 80% in Every Community. Updated 2021.

  2. The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. Data & Progress. Updated 2021.

  3. American Cancer Society. Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2020-2022. Updated 2020.

  4. Colon Cancer Coalition. Colorectal Cancer Screening Options. Updated 2021.