The Kentucky Cancer Consortium (KCC) was one of six honorees to receive a national honor recognizing leadership in the ongoing effort to increase colorectal cancer screening rates across the Unites States.
The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), an organization co-founded by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recognized KCC with the 80% by 2018 National Achievement Award. This award is given to individuals and organizations who dedicate their time, talent and expertise to advancing needed initiatives to reach the national goal of regularly screening 80 percent of adults age 50 or over for colorectal cancer.
Twenty years ago, Kentucky was ranked next-to-last in the country for colorectal cancer screenings, with just over one-third of people age 50 or over having ever received a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy exam.
Making colorectal cancer a priority
The KCC is Kentucky’s statewide comprehensive cancer control coalition made up of more than 70 organizations and 450 partners representing academia, community-based organizations, foundations, health professionals, health systems, nonprofits, state and local government, policymakers, professional associations, survivors, and others committed to reducing cancer in the state. It is funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the UK Markey Cancer Control Program.
In 2002, KCC made reducing colorectal cancer a top priority. Working together, the agencies and organizations participating in the KCC were able to collaboratively implement interventions at multiple levels – public awareness, outreach and education, health professionals, health systems, policy changes, and research.
In the years that followed the new focus on colorectal cancer, the screening rates doubled: Between 1999 and 2016, screening rates rose from 35 percent to 70 percent, improving more than any other state in the country and moving the state from a ranking of 49th to 17th. As screening has increased, the incidence rate for colorectal cancer is down roughly 23 percent, and the mortality rate has dropped 30 percent. Through colorectal screenings, doctors can find precancerous lesions and remove them before they become cancer. Screenings also allow physicians to find these cancers at an earlier stage when they are more likely to respond to treatment.
“As a strong network of organizations sharing similar goals and hundreds of partners devoting time, resources, funding and energy for 16 years, we are committed to doing what it takes to keep us moving to 80 percent screening – and beyond,” said Jennifer Redmond Knight, co-principal investigator for the KCC. “Working together, we can do much more than we ever could on our own. As a result of our efforts, almost 400 Kentuckians who would have gotten colorectal cancer haven’t developed it, and more than 200 Kentuckians who would have died from it have been saved.”