The campaign in the African American community
African Americans have a higher rate* of colorectal cancer diagnoses (57) than the average of all races in the state (49). There are also higher rates of death (20) compared to the average of all races in the state (18).
Colorectal cancer can also be found at younger ages among the African American community. That’s why screening is recommended at age 45, compared to 50, and potentially earlier depending on a person’s family history.
There are three recommended screening options from the U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce: a stool test (FOBT or FIT), flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. A sigmoidoscopy allows doctors to check for polyps inside the rectum or lower third of the colon. It is, therefore, not a recommended screening for African Americans who often have polyps in the upper thirds of the colon.
To help increase screening rates among African Americans, OHA is partnering with the The Steve Baker Colorectal Cancer Alliance (SBCCA) and Men’s Health Project – Community Messengers, two community partners in the Portland metro area that already work closely with African Americans on this issue.
As the campaign evolves we will engage the African American faith community in the conversation and share information about the importance of screening.
*Rates are per 100,000, Oregon State Cancer Registry, 2006.
I got screened for colorectal cancer when I was 50 because my doctor recommended it, and several of my friends encouraged me. Then in 2006, my friend Wendy Huntley died of colon cancer. Her friends and husband started Wendy’s Wish to raise money for cancer patients with expenses not covered by insurance. We also want to educate our community about the importance of screening for early detection. Early detection of colon cancer allows for much better outcomes and treatment.
Cindy Pierce-teacher-librarian at Mountain View High School, Bend