The Colorectal Cancer Alliance (Alliance)—the nation’s leading cancer organization focused on ending this disease—is sounding the alarm about the disparities affecting Black Americans and colon cancer. According to statistics just released by the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined, and Black Americans are about 20% more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer and 35% more likely to die from it. Despite the recent lowering of the minimum screening age to 45 from 50, many in the Black community will not get screened.
“There are many barriers to colorectal cancer screening that contribute to the disproportionate incidence and mortality rates among the Black community, including stigma, bias, awareness, and access,” says Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.
“We believe that everyone deserves access to quality healthcare, regardless of zip code, race, income and insurance status.”
The Alliance is acting with urgency to get the message out by enlisting the support of the country’s foremost culture and influencer marketing agency —Team Epiphany. This collaboration has resulted in an awareness and education campaign called “They Didn’t Say,” highlighting important facts about the impact of colorectal cancer among the Black community. Serving as campaign ambassadors are journalist, TV and podcast host, Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins, multimedia mogul and TV personality, Charlamagne tha God, award-winning photographer, Mel D. Cole, and director, DJ, and designer, Vashtie.
“Too many of us have had friends or family that have been affected by colorectal cancer, so it’s important for me to speak out and help eliminate any embarrassment surrounding colorectal cancer screening,” said media mogul and TV personality Charlamagne tha God.
“Hopefully this campaign will lead to more important conversations, screening and access to resources to help prevent this disease from further affecting our communities.”
To provide actionable resources and educate the community on the realities of colorectal cancer, the culturally connected campaign ambassadors are amplifying the conversation via personal testimonials. Through pointed communications that inspire conversation and compelling content from these influencer partners, #TheyDidntSay helps further educate the Black community through a high-impact campaign.
Coltrane Curtis, a leading cultural influencer and the Founder and Managing Partner of Team Epiphany, didn’t need convincing to join this cause.
“As a Black American, and someone who has a platform for change, I am committed to reaching our community with this important call to action. There are so many issues facing us that we can’t control. Preventing colon cancer is one thing we can do. We aim to shift the scales on health equity with this campaign.”
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance and health equity
The Alliance continues the charge to address inequities in colorectal cancer prevention and care. In conjunction with its industry and advocacy partners, the Alliance is providing free at-home test kits to eligible individuals, financial assistance for colonoscopies as well as expenses associated with screening, including transportation, lodging and lost work wages.
A team of certified patient and family support navigators guide people through the screening process and provide support for those who have received a diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship.
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month provides a timely platform to get the word out about the healthcare disparities facing Black Americans. See this segment featuring the Today show host and Alliance board member Craig Melvin, who lost his brother Lawrence to colorectal cancer.
To find out if you qualify for a free colorectal cancer screening, contact the Colorectal Cancer Alliance helpline at 877-422-2030 or complete the online screening survey.
Here’s why the Alliance is taking action:
– Colorectal cancer kills more people each year—estimated 52,580 in 2022—than every type of cancer except lung cancer; and it is grossly underfunded compared to other cancers.
– The average lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about one in 23 for men and one in 25 for women.
– One in 250 people will get CRC before they turn 49; there will be a 90% increase in CRC for those under age 35 by 2030.
– If caught and treated early, CRC has a 90% survival rate.
– Nearly one in three eligible Americans has not been screened for colorectal cancer.
– Young-onset colorectal cancer continues to be on the rise; rates for people under 55 increased 15% since 2000.