Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable types of cancer, yet is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States. Black Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates, with death rates 40% higher than other racial or ethnic groups. Disparities in cancer rates can often be attributed to barriers to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment, all of which can be connected to systemic racial disparities in factors such as social determinants of health.
To combat this disparity, WURD Radio, Independence Blue Cross, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, Penn Medicine, and LabCorp, partnered to launch, “Go to Know” in March 2021. Facilitated by HCIF, the goal of this initiative was to improve colorectal cancer screening rates among African Americans in Philadelphia. Screening is the most effective way to prevent or detect early stages of colorectal cancer, when it is most treatable. Through Go to Know, colorectal cancer screening FIT kits were distributed to WURD’s Radio audience. The FIT test is a simple and effective at-home stool-based test that can detect blood in the stool, an early indicator of colorectal cancer.
The Go to Know initiative was promoted by WURD through on-air interviews with physician experts, discussions by radio hosts with colorectal cancer survivors, social media campaigns, and other in-person promotional events, such as WURD’s Founder’s Day. The WURD website led listeners to a Colorectal Cancer Alliance patient navigator, who then assessed individuals’ risk of cancer and answered questions about the screening process. LabCorp distributed the kits to those who were deemed appropriate, and also managed the processing of any returned kits and securely sending results to providers. Any individual deemed high-risk or who received a positive FIT Kit result was referred to Penn Medicine for a colonoscopy.
During a six-month period:
- 145 FIT Kits were distributed, and 47 FIT Kits were completed and returned to LabCorp.
- 11 symptomatic individuals were routed to medical consult, and 1 follow-up colonoscopy was completed due to being identified as high-risk.
- Tens of thousands of individuals were reached and educated about the importance of colorectal cancer screening as a result of the campaign.
These results were achieved during the height of the COVID pandemic and thus we anticipate that future programs may have even more impactful outcomes. This program illustrates the power of innovative collaborations to save lives and reduce disparities in cancer screening and serves as a model for future prevention initiatives.