UOG pledges support to increase colorectal cancer screening in Guam to 80%
(From left) Marisha Artero, health systems manager, American Cancer Society; Maurissa Sayama, research associate, UOG Cancer Research Center; Tressa Diaz, assistant professor of social work at UOG; UOG President Thomas W. Krise; Cathy Castro, vice chairwoman, Guam Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition; Angelina Mummert, community health educator, UOG Cancer Research Center; and Lawrence Alam, program coordinator IV, Guam Comprehensive Cancer Control Program.
The University of Guam has committed its support for reaching an island-wide colorectal cancer screening rate of 80% with the signing of a pledge on March 14 by UOG President Thomas W. Krise. The pledge is part of a pilot project of the UOG Cancer Research Center’s Community Outreach Core, the American Cancer Society, and the Guam Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition that will encourage local clinics and organizations to increase these screenings.
As of 2016, the U.S. national colorectal cancer screening rate was 67.3%, while Guam’s rate was 44.2%.
According to data from the Guam Cancer Registry, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths on Guam. Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon and rectum that can develop in men or women, especially in those ages 50 and older. A contributing factor to the high death rates on island may be the fact that screening for the disease is extremely low compared to the national average.
“Regular screening can often prevent colorectal cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths,” said Marisha Artero, health systems manager at the American Cancer Society. “When colorectal cancer is found at an early stage — before it has spread — the five-year relative survival rate is about 90%.”
In light of these statistics, and with March being Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Krise signed the pledge, promising to support education about colorectal cancer screening in Guam’s medical community and to also work internally toward creating a cancer screening–friendly work environment on campus.
With the support of a grant from the American Cancer Society, the UOG Cancer Research Center will be involved in a campaign to encourage UOG employees to get screened and will offer more educational outlets in the future, such as health fairs and consultations, where employees can learn why it is important to take action now.
“The American Cancer Society commends the University of Guam for championing this lifesaving campaign,” Artero said.