MedStar Washington Hospital Center Receives $232,000 to Combat Crisis of Advanced Colon Cancer among African-Americans in Ward 5

American Cancer Society and Cigna Foundation Grants Support “Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood”

Washington, D.C., March 23, 2017 – The American Cancer Society and the Cigna Foundation have collectively awarded $232,000 in grants to MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s innovative community-based program to address the crisis of advanced colon cancer, occurring largely among African-Americans with health insurance living in Washington D.C.’s Ward 5. The American Cancer Society provided $99,000, and Cigna awarded $133,000 to support “Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood,”  a program recognized in former Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative, as an innovative effort to promote equitable access to cancer screening and care for underserved populations. 

From 2006 to 2011, 68% of the colorectal cancer patients treated at MedStar Washington Hospital Center presented with stage 2 through stage 4 cancer, with a 5-year survival rate of those diagnosed with stage 2 at 63%, and only11% for those diagnosed with stage 4. Of those, nearly 50% of stage 3 and 4 patients were from Ward 5. Alarmingly, 97% of those presenting with advanced colorectal cancer had health insurance at the time of their diagnosis. The data also showed that 91% of those patients with late stage colorectal cancer were African-Americans.

The goal of “Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood” is to significantly increase colorectal cancer screening rates among Ward 5 residents, age 50 and older, and those younger than 50 who have a family history of the condition, with a longer term goal to reduce disparities and save lives. The program will deploy community health workers/patient navigators to work with Ward 5 residents, building community-based partnerships to deliver colon cancer education, perform risk assessments and distribute easy-to-use fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) to use at home. It will also help connect patients with colonoscopy services at the Hospital Center. In addition, education on insurance utilization for preventive cancer screening will be provided at community events.

“We’re truly grateful to the American Cancer Society and the Cigna Foundation for their generous support to our innovative program, which is such an important initiative for the community we serve,” said Elmer Huerta, MD, MPH, director of the Cancer Preventorium at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Dr. Huerta, who was the American Cancer Society’s past president, leads the “Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood” program with David Shocket, MD, director of Gastroenterology, who will perform the program’s colonoscopies.

The program has also pledged to support the American Cancer Society’s “80% by 2018” national initiative, which aims to reach 80% of the eligible population to be screened for colorectal cancer by 2018, thus saving thousands of lives.

In Washington, D.C., it is expected that 210 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed and that 90 deaths will occur due to colorectal cancer in 2017.

The present overall colorectal screening rate in the District is 67.9% according to the District of Columbia Department of Health BRFSS (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System) for 2014. Reaching 80% by 2018 would avoid 453 new cases of colorectal cancer and 332 deaths by in the District by 2030. In order to reach this goal, close to 40,000 people in the District need to be screened.

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. for men and women combined.

 


About MedStar Washington Hospital Center
MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a 912-bed, major teaching and research hospital. It is the largest private, not-for-profit hospital in the nation’s capital, among the 100 largest hospitals in the nation and a major referral center for treating the most complex cases. Its cardiology program is highly acclaimed and its cardiac surgery program has consistently earned the highest national rating–three stars–from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. It also is a respected top facility in the areas of cancer, diabetes & endocrinology, Ear, Nose & Throat, gastroenterology & GI surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, pulmonology and urology. It operates MedSTAR, a nationally-verified level I trauma center with a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters and ambulances, and also operates the region’s only adult Burn Center.

About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2.5 million volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society's efforts have contributed to a 22 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. Thanks in part to our progress, 15.5 million Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will celebrate more birthdays this year. We're determined to finish the fight against cancer. We're finding cures as the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

About the Cigna Foundation
The Cigna Foundation, founded in 1962, is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work.

Media Contact

So Young Pak
202-877-2748
[email protected]

High Rate of Advanced Colon Cancer Found Among African Americans in Ward 5

Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood Program Launched, Part of White House Cancer Moonshot


Washington, D.C., October 17, 2016
– Colon cancer is one of the very few preventable cancers, but too many residents from the District of Columbia’s Ward 5 are diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. Today, MedStar Washington Hospital Center is launching its “Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood” program, to increase early detection and prevention of colon cancer. The program focuses on African-Americans in the Ward 5 neighborhood, where a crisis of late-stage colon cancer exists. “Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood” is part of Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot efforts to ensure cancer care is equitable throughout the nation.

Of 1,314 men and women treated for colon cancer from 2006 to 2011 at the Hospital Center, 892 of them, or 68 percent had stages 2 through 4 colon cancer. Of those, nearly 50 percent of stage 3 and 4 colon cancer patients were from Ward 5, echoing a number of studies that consistently show the highest yearly prevalence of colon cancer in the District is among Ward 5 residents. The data also revealed 91 percent of those with stage 3 and 4 colon cancer were African-Americans. Even more alarming, 97 percent of those presenting with advanced colon cancer had health insurance at the time of their diagnosis.

“It is shocking to see that this many residents who have insurance coverage are presenting late, with a disease that could have been detected earlier with screening,” said Elmer Huerta, MD, MPH, director of the Cancer Preventorium at MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Washington Cancer Institute. “This data validates the need to offer accessible colon cancer screening and education in the community.”

The “Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood” program will deploy patient navigators to work with Ward 5 residents, building community-based partnerships to deliver colon cancer education, perform risk assessments and distribute easy-to-use fecal immunochemical (FIT) tests that can be done at home. The FIT test measures tiny amounts of blood in the stool that can be a sign of cancer or large polyps. The program will also offer services to connect patients with colonoscopy services, supporting the goal of significantly increasing screening rates among Ward 5 residents. The community-based program is supported by the Herb Gordon Foundation for Gastrointestinal Cancer, the American Cancer Society and private donors.

For the past three years, breast health navigators at MedStar Washington Hospital Center have been actively working in the Ward 5 community to improve breast cancer screening. Hospital Center data found similar results as with colon cancer: 97 percent of the Ward 5 patients with advanced breast cancer were African-American women with health insurance coverage. Thanks to grants from the AVON Breast Cancer Crusade, the breast cancer outreach program is now expanding across the city into Wards 7 and 8.

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About the Cancer Moonshot:
During his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to lead a new, national Cancer Moonshot, focused on making a decade's worth of progress in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer in five years - ultimately striving to end cancer as we know it. A Presidential Memorandum on January 28, 2016 established the Cancer Moonshot Task Force.

 After meeting with experts across the country and the world, Vice President Biden identified areas of focus for the Cancer Moonshot -- based on barriers to progress and opportunities for improving patient outcomes - and announced a first wave of accomplishments at the Cancer Moonshot Summit on June 29, 2016 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. On Monday, October 17, Vice President Biden is releasing the final report of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, along with his own Executive Findings after traveling to many of the major nerve centers in the cancer community. He will also unveil a new set of Federal actions, private sector actions, and collaborative partnerships to further advance the goals of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force. More information on the Cancer Moonshot can be found here.

 

About MedStar Washington Hospital Center:
MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a 926-bed, major teaching and research hospital. It is the largest private, not-for-profit hospital in the nation’s capital, among the 100 largest hospitals in the nation and a major referral center for treating the most complex cases. U.S.News & World Report consistently ranks the hospital’s cardiology and heart surgery program as one of the nation’s best. It also is a respected top facility in the areas of cancer, diabetes & endocrinology, Ear, Nose & Throat, gastroenterology & GI surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, pulmonology and urology. It operates MedSTAR, a nationally-verified level I trauma center with a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters and ambulances, and also operates the region’s only adult Burn Center.

Media Contact

So Young Pak
202-877-2748
[email protected]