Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States and in South Carolina. Each year, 2,200 new people will be diagnosed with the disease and nearly 800 will die from the disease. This is equivalent to two deaths and 6 new diagnoses each day. Worse yet, statistic show that the medically underserved and uninsured population has a higher incidence and lower survival rate of colorectal cancer. We also know that African American and rural populations are at high-risk for developing colorectal cancer. Regrettably, these factors are felt strongly in South Carolina where more than 30% of the population is African American, of which 40% live in rural areas.
To address this situation, The Center for Colon Cancer Research at USC through the South Carolina Colon Cancer Prevention Network (SCCCPN) established a state-wide program to provide colonoscopy screening to the uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved population of South Carolina. The SCCCPN developed the infrastructure and navigation capabilities to provide colorectal cancer screening to individuals who are uninsured, live below the poverty line, are between the ages of 50 – 64 (or 45 – 64 for African Americans), and have not had a colonoscopy.
Since 2008, the SCCCPN has been working to address the problem of colorectal cancer through education and screening of South Carolinians. Working with Free Medical Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Clinics, the network established the infrastructure, training, and navigation capacity needed to fully implement its goals of screening those most at risk, yet least able to access services. The SCCCPN has received strong support from private, corporate and public organizations such as: BlueCross BlueShield Foundation of SC, Duke Foundation, The Center for Colon Cancer Research at USC, USC, the Gibbs Cancer Center, the Hollings Cancer Center at MUSC, and the South Carolina Gastroenterology Association.
In 2010, the Center for Colon Cancer Research at USC, under the leadership of Dr. Frank Berger, invited a small group of influential advocates to form the CRC Action Committee. This Committee’s mission is to reduce the incidence and deaths from colorectal cancer in SC by collaboratively raising awareness and screening rates for this preventable disease. This agile committee is committed to implementing actions and population based activities in a responsive and flexible manner. The CRC Action Committee works with partners to increase screening among persons who have health insurance that covers preventive screenings. Members of this committee include providers, business leaders, researchers and colon cancer survivors.