The Exact Sciences team just came home from Digestive Disease Week (DDW), which was held May 18 – 21 in Orlando. DDW is one of the largest medical meetings in the U.S. and covers screening, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with diseases and conditions throughout the GI tract.
While the meeting itself had updates on stool DNA from Dr. David Ahlquist from Mayo Clinic, one of the highlights was the meeting of the World Endoscopy Organization (WEO) on May 17th.
The WEO has a colorectal cancer working group that consists of experts from around the world that meet regularly to share research and best practices. Every year before DDW we get the chance to hear what they are up to.
The group covers important topics related to improving the quality of colonoscopy through training, understanding the rate of interval cancers (cancers identified in between screening tests), defining better risk factors to help us better understand which patients may benefit from earlier, and more frequent screening.
However, the topic that was most interesting to me was the presentation from Dr. Samir Gupta, who reported on behalf of the WEO group that is tasked with developing approaches to increase colorectal cancer screening rates in the uninsured and underserved populations in the United States.
About half of Americans are not up to date on their CRC screening. Dr. Gupta highlighted four steps that we must go through to increase participation.
- Identify who is not getting screened in both the insured and uninsured populations.
- Identify the most effective screening method for this group. That might be based on the overall test performance or it may be based on his third tenant.
- Ensure the test is accessible and acceptable to the population.
- Make sure those who undergo screening and are found to have disease have access to appropriate therapy.
We know that screening rates can be improved. Dr. Gupta cited the example of the NYC Citywide Colon Cancer Control Initiative (C5), which has worked through policy, advocacy, and other channels to dramatically increase the CRC screening rates in NYC.
Dr. Gupta and all who asked questions during the open discussion felt that with appropriate tools, shared decision making between patients and physicians, and the development of screening programs that are sensitive to the diversity of cultural beliefs and values present in the US population we can achieve better CRC screening rates.
Image credit: paulotx2000