The Importance of Community Support in Colon Cancer Prevention

According to Oncology Nurse Advisor, the community in which you live could impact colon cancer diagnosis. For patients who live in segregated communities, geographic region plays a significant factor in the timing of individuals being diagnosed with colon cancer. This is important because the degree of advancement of the disease at time of diagnosis affects patient prognosis. Detecting colon cancer in advanced stages means that the cancer is more difficult to treat.

A recent study found that patients who live in highly segregated Asian communities in coastal California are more likely to have late-stage colon cancer at diagnosis, yet patients who lived in highly segregated African American communities in large urban areas and the Sun Belt are less likely to be diagnosed with advanced stage colon cancer.

Using information from the United States Cancer Center Database, researchers looked at data from more than 500,000 cases of colon cancer newly diagnosed from 2004 to 2009. Researchers also reviewed literature that found examples of a variety of initiatives to promote urban populations to have a colon screening. These campaigns’ audiences were mostly minority, low-income and non-English speaking sections of urban people groups. Very few campaigns targeted rural populations and no campaigns targeted Asian communities.

One of the most important findings of the study was that people who lived in segregated locations among their same race or ethnicity may be slightly protected from developing colon cancer. Furthermore, they may have a lower risk of late-stage diagnosis of colon cancer. The reason for this may be that segregated communities often provide more encouragement and support, which may boost screening rates.

This study underscores the importance of support among family, friends, communities, and racial and ethnic groups. Colon cancer is preventable through routine screening, and it is highly treatable when diagnosed in the early stages, but colonoscopies require the assistance of a caregiver. The patient needs a caregiver to provide transportation and post-procedure care because of the sedative medication. Having a strong network of support means that it is easier to ask for patients to request help from their inner circle. A closer community often means higher screening rates and lower colon cancer incidence.

This study is pivotal as research groups seek to educate our geographic areas and communities on the importance of colon cancer education. Currently, colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States among men and women, but it does not have to remain this way. Through education, communication, and community support, we can help all eligible individuals receive preventative screenings. Talk to your doctor about when you should schedule your first colonoscopy, and be confident in asking your loved ones if they are up-to-date on their screenings. Offering to be a caregiver for a parent, relative or neighbor could save a life, so take action today.