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Rutgers Cancer Institute, Rutgers Health and University Hospital Unite with American Cancer Society to Fight Colorectal Cancer

New Brunswick, NJ, November 30, 2017 — Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers Health, and University Hospital in Newark have announced their commitment to increase colorectal cancer screening across New Jersey by joining a national effort with the American Cancer Society in the fight against this disease.

Through proper screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called “polyps”) in the colon before they become cancerous.

A first-time screening is recommended for men and women beginning at age 50.  One should discuss appropriate screening intervals with their health professional based on age, health history and family history of the disease.  Those with a family history of the disease may be encouraged to start a screening regimen at a younger age.

The national percentage of adults 50 and older that are up to date with recommended colorectal cancer screening has increased from 56 percent in 2002 to 65 percent in 2010.

By focusing on target audiences — newly insured, financially challenged, insured procrastinators/rationalizers, African Americans, and Hispanics — Rutgers and University Hospital aim to achieve 80 percent screened for colorectal cancer during 2018.

“Colorectal cancer is a major public health problem. Adults age 50 and older should be regularly screened for it. There are several screening options, including take home tests,” said Kristina Thomson, senior director of health systems for the American Cancer Society.

“Colorectal cancer can be prevented or detected early through appropriate screening and tens of thousands of lives can be saved if we increase screening to reach 80 percent by 2018.”

“Instead of colorectal cancer being diagnosed at a later stage – many times in the emergency room when it is too late to effectively treat – awareness of and access to colorectal cancer screenings need to be improved,” noted Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS, director of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey; senior vice president for oncology services at RWJBarnabas Health and vice chancellor of cancer programs at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

“Along with Rutgers Health, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital on our Newark campus, and our partner RWJBarnabas Health which is also committed to this pledge, we are positioned to assist residents across our state with access to colorectal screening.”

“Rutgers Health is proud to join this effort to encourage colon cancer screenings that will result in a major cancer prevention success,” said Vicente H. Gracias, MD, president and CEO, Rutgers Health Group and senior vice chancellor for clinical affairs, Rutgers University.

“Colorectal cancer, despite being the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., can be prevented and easily treated when detected early.  As part of our system’s transition towards population health we must prioritize screening more than ever, especially for those who might delay or avoid it due to less access to services or a lack of colorectal cancer symptoms.”

“We are proud to partner with the American Cancer Society and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey to increase the awareness and access to colorectal cancer screening,” noted John N. Kastanis, MBA, FACHE, president and CEO, University Hospital.

“Through our partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, our community has access to state of the art cancer care.  However, we need to increase the rates of screening to have a true impact on colorectal cancer outcomes.  We are committed to this pledge, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to raise awareness about the importance colorectal cancer screening.”

For more information about colorectal cancer screening, visit www.cancer.org/colon or contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

For more information about the 80 percent by 2018 initiative, visit www.nccrt.org.