Saint John’s and Stand Up To Cancer:
Fighting Colorectal Cancer, Together
Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Stand Up To Cancer ® (SU2C) have partnered together to create a new Dream Team dedicated to addressing colorectal cancer disparities. The Dream Team’s robust screening, research, education and training efforts will extend across the United States to establish three SU2C Zones: Greater Boston, Los Angeles and Tribal National is South Dakota. These zones include diverse and distinct communities that are medically underserved and have particularly low screening rates for colorectal cancer, which is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in American men and women combined. Research has shown that colorectal cancer screening rates are the lowest in Hispanic communities, with Black and Hispanic people typically being diagnosed at a later stage in the disease when it is more difficult to treat.
Black Panther actor and former Saint John’s patient, Chadwick Boseman, died last August at age 43 of colon cancer and his tragic death illustrates two trends in colon cancer incidence in the United States: black people are more likely to die from colon cancer with their risk of developing the disease higher than other ethnic groups; and, since 2007, colon cancer rates among young people under age 55 have increased 2% per year.
Anton Bilchik, MD These trends we’re seeing in colon cancer, particularly among the young and black populations, are not yet fully understood, which is why this research and partnering with Stand Up To Cancer is so important.” Anton Bilchik is a professor of surgery and director of the Gastrointestinal Research Program, and co-leader of SU2C Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team.
Saint John’s has long been at the forefront of surgical care and innovative clinical research on gastrointestinal malignancies including stomach, liver, pancreas and colorectal cancers in addition to treatment for other digestive health conditions. The partnership with SU2C provides Saint John’s the opportunity to advance research and clinical efforts on a national scale while closing the equity gap so desperately needed in the fight against cancer.
Stand Up To Cancer ® (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. As of January 2021, more than 1,950 scientists representing more than 210 institutions are involved in SU2C-funded research projects. With Saint John’s history of excellence in gastrointestinal care and research, and its track record of successful clinical trials and funded research, the partnership between Saint John’s and SU2C is a natural fit.
Under the leadership of Anton Bilchik, MD, and with the support of Saint John’s corporate sponsor, Providence, the partnership with SU2C’s Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team, will steer community initiatives in predominantly black communities throughout the Los Angeles area for early colon cancer screening, provide follow-up health care services for those who need it and mentor the next generation of equity researchers involved in the initiative.
Rudy Bedford, MD Finding the cause of colorectal cancers in young and black communities is key to preventing and creating effective treatments to save the lives of these patients across the country.”
Additionally, Anton Bilchik, MD and Rudy Bedford, MD, co-directors of the Digestive Health Institute have created the Early Onset Colorectal Cancer (EOCRC) Research Project at Saint John’s to compliment and further support the work of SU2C’s Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team. Conducted exclusively at Saint John’s, EOCRC is an extensive and comprehensive study that will:
- Evaluate tissue and blood from patients with different backgrounds, lifestyles and family history.
- Analyze differences in genomic and immunologic profile between young and older colorectal cancer patients.
- Study the impact of the microbiome in either causing or preventing colorectal cancer.
- Improve our understanding why certain polyps evolve into cancer.
Study results will help us know who is at higher risk for CRC, create genetic screening, and ultimately develop prevention strategies so that we can reduce the number of patients who get Colorectal cancers.