By Karen Stokes
This month the President proclaimed March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. In recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, the White House Cancer Moonshot convened leaders from the colorectal cancer community, including patients, survivors, private sector companies, foundations, academic institutions, and health care providers focused on accelerating efforts to reduce the deadly impact of colorectal cancer.
“Cancer affects all of us. It’s hard to find anyone where it’s not at all personal to them. The recent Cancer Society data estimates that in 2023, 153,000 people will be diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer in the US and more than 52,000 will die from the disease,” said Andrea Palm, Deputy Secretary U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “We’ve learned that advanced stage colorectal cancer diagnosis among those under 55 has increased in the last decade from 11 percent to 20 percent. We’re striving to extend quality of life and reduce illness as much as we can.”
Palm stated the importance of screenings and that not only do we need to do screenings but need to make sure people in underserved communities have access to screenings.
“Our goal is to outline new actions we can take because we must turn the tide to drive colorectal cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and survival for all Americans, “ said Dr. Danielle Carnival, Deputy Assistant to the President for the Cancer Moonshot; Dep. Dir. for Health Outcomes. “The President and First Lady have set bold new goals to decrease the death rate of cancer by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years and to improve the experience of people, families, caregivers, loved ones through living with and surviving cancer. To be clear this means improving research, and innovation to develop new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer.”
Award winning actor Chadwick Boseman passed away in 2020 from colon cancer. His wife Simone Ledward Boseman shared information on her life with Chadwick and caring for a spouse with cancer.
“We sat front row at the Oscars and on the floor at Lakers games while nobody knew that we left the game to go to chemo, then we left chemo to do a press tour, we left the awards show and watched the ending in a hospital bed,” Boseman said. “He was 39, eleven years away from what would have been his first colon screening.”
“The most heartbreaking fact is it didn’t have to be too late if we had known. The second most heartbreaking fact was that our situation was not an anomaly,” Boseman said “ If we had known how hard his demographic was hit with colon cancer. If we had known that between 2000-2016 among young black adults, a proportion of colorectal cancer being diagnosed at late stages rose from 0-46 percent and Chad was diagnosed in 2016. If we had known that Black men and women were 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with this disease at later stages. If we had known that Black people have the highest rates of colon cancer among any ethnic group in America and tend to get it younger with lower survival rates. If we had known the symptoms, if we had known how preventable and treatable this disease is. So many Black people still don’t know by no fault of their own. This isn’t about biological differences, this is about access to information.”
President Biden re-ignited the Cancer Moonshot in February, and identified it in his State of the Union address as part of a Unity Agenda for the nation.
For more information visit Whitehouse.gov/cancermoonshot