New grant will fund colorectal cancer prevention research and public awareness efforts to increase screenings, with a focus on medically underserved communities
Credit: Stand Up To Cancer
Today Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) unveiled a collaborative initiative aimed at improving colorectal cancer screening, early detection and prevention across the United States. The transformative $10 million grant from Exact Sciences, a provider of cancer screening and diagnostic tests, will fund a colorectal cancer ‘Dream Team’ of researchers, as well as a comprehensive public awareness campaign to increase screenings.
The new Dream Team will be awarded in early 2021 and will identify communities near anchor institutions that serve minority and medically underserved communities, pinpoint the unique local needs of those areas and turn participating at-risk communities into “Stand Up To Cancer Zones” with high rates of colorectal cancer screening. The Dream Team will provide free colorectal cancer testing in the identified zones and will study samples collected via approved tests for colorectal cancer, including colonoscopy, CT colonography, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and at-home stool tests that analyze fecal DNA and/or blood. The research will aim to develop better approaches to colorectal cancer interception.
Fellowships for early-career investigators committed to studying health equity and disparities in colorectal cancer will also be funded. Public awareness campaigns will focus on medically underserved communities to increase awareness of the importance of colorectal cancer screening and early detection, and the availability of multiple effective screening options, such as traditional colonoscopy as well as options used at home.
“This funding allows us to bring together institutions, clinicians and communities to address the challenges we face in colorectal cancer screening,” said Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, chair of Stand Up To Cancer’s Scientific Advisory Committee and an Institute professor at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to make sure people are informed about both the benefits of colorectal cancer screening and their options.”
“We’re excited to work with Stand Up To Cancer on this bold new initiative,” said Kevin Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences. “We want to change the way people think about colorectal cancer screening. This collaboration will move cutting-edge research and education efforts forward so we can help more people.”
This year, nearly 148,000 Americans will receive a new diagnosis of colon or rectal cancer.i Colorectal cancer is treatable in 90% of cases when detected early,ii yet 1 in 3 adults over age 50 are not up-to-date on recommended colorectal cancer screening.iii The COVID-19 pandemic has further compounded the problem with screening rates dropping significantly due to stay-at-home orders. For example, the total number of colonoscopies and biopsies performed declined by nearly 90% by mid-April 2020 compared to April 2019.iv Concurrently, new cases of colorectal cancer are occurring at a growing rate among young and middle-aged adults in the US, with the number of cases of colorectal cancer in people under 50 expected to almost double by 2030.v The disease disproportionately impacts people of color; Black people have the highest rates of colorectal cancer of any racial or ethnic group in the US.vi In October 2020, the US Preventive Services Task Force released a draft recommendation to lower the colorectal cancer screening age from 50 to 45,vii but educating the public about the benefits of screening, as well as screening options, remains vital.
“We want people to understand that this disease is highly preventable and that a simple test can save lives,” said Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, CEO of Stand Up To Cancer. “When it comes to screening for colorectal cancer, the best test is the test that gets done. People will always benefit from simple and accessible healthcare options, and at-home preventive care is particularly vital to keeping people healthy during the pandemic. Together with Exact Sciences, we’re going to make this message mainstream and our hope is that other collaborators, such as healthcare providers, community leaders and advocacy groups, will join us in taking a stand against colorectal cancer.”
Research has shown that colorectal cancer screening rates are the lowest in Hispanic communities, with 59% of Hispanics getting screened, compared to 66% of Black people and 69% of white people getting screened.viii Black and Hispanic people are typically diagnosed at a later stage in the disease when it is more difficult to treat. These disparities could be driven by financial barriers, lack of insurance, existing health inequities and insufficient information about colorectal cancer and colorectal cancer screening options.
SU2C, along with Exact Sciences, plans to engage with other collaborators to help reach the underserved communities, foster scientific research and guide public participation. The multi-pronged approach intends to ensure that colorectal cancer remains a disease that is treatable and survivable through widespread screening and early detection.
SU2C announced a Health Equity Initiative in January 2020. The initiative requires all future teams seeking Stand Up To Cancer funding to address recruitment and retention of patients from different ethnic and racial groups and underserved communities to improve diverse participation in cancer clinical trials. The initiative also includes collaborations with advocacy groups and industry and corporate supporters to move research and public awareness efforts forward. The new grant from Exact Sciences is the next critical step in SU2C’s movement to ensure cancer research, screening and treatment benefit everyone.
Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer
About Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by media and entertainment leaders who utilize these communities’ resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, to increase awareness about cancer prevention, and to highlight progress being made in the fight against the disease. As of August 2020, more than 1,950 scientists representing more than 210 institutions are involved in SU2C-funded research projects.
Under the direction of our Scientific Advisory Committee, led by Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., SU2C operates rigorous competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration, and ensure collaboration across research programs.
Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, Kathleen Lobb, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, and Ellen Ziffren. The late Laura Ziskin and the late Noreen Fraser are also co-founders. Sung Poblete, Ph.D., R.N., serves as SU2C’s CEO. For more information, visit StandUpToCancer.org.
About Exact Sciences Corp.
A provider of cancer screening and diagnostic tests, Exact Sciences pursues solutions providing the information to take life-changing action, earlier. Exact Sciences is investing in its product pipeline to take on some of the deadliest cancers and improve patient care. Exact Sciences unites collaborators to help advance the fight against cancer. For more information, please visit the company’s website at http://www.
i American Cancer Society.
Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2020-2022.
Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2020.
ii Colon Cancer Coalition. Colorectal Cancer Screening Options.
Accessed December 10, 2020
iii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Colorectal cancer screening rates remain low.
Accessed December 10, 2020
iv London JW, et al. Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer-related patient encounters. JCO Clin Cancer Inform. Published online July 27, 2020.
v Bailey CE; et al. Increasing disparities in age-related incidence of colon and rectal cancer in the United States, 1975-2010. JAMA Surg. 2015;150(1):17-22.
vi American Cancer Society. Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2020-2022. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2020.
vii USPSTF. Draft Recommendation Statement Colorectal Cancer: Screening. October 27, 2020.
Accessed December 5, 2020
viii American Cancer Society. Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2020-2022. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2020.