On the first Friday in March, it has become an annual tradition to dress in blue to promote colorectal cancer awareness. Twitter feeds are filled with photos of members of our gastroenterology community (sometimes entire endoscopy units!) swathed in various shades of blue. This tradition was started in the mid-2000’s by a patient diagnosed with early-onset colorectal cancer who planned a fund raiser at her daughter’s elementary school where students were encouraged to wear a blue outfit and make a $1 donation to support awareness of this deadly but preventable cancer. What was once a local effort has now grown into a national phenomenon, and a powerful opportunity for the medical community to educate patients, friends, and family regarding risk factors for colorectal cancer and the importance of timely and effective screening. But while raising awareness is vital, it is only an initial step in the complex process of optimizing delivery of screening services and improving cancer outcomes through prevention and early detection.
In this month’s issue of GIHN, we report on a study from Cancer demonstrating the effectiveness of Spanish-speaking patient navigators in boosting colorectal cancer screening rates among Hispanic patients. We also highlight a quality improvement initiative at a large academic medical center demonstrating the impact of an electronic “primer” message delivered through the patient portal on screening completion rates in a mailed fecal immunochemical test outreach program. Finally, in this month’s Practice Management Toolbox column, Dr. Brill and Dr. Lieberman advise us on how to prepare for upcoming coverage changes impacting screening colonoscopy – a result of AGA’s tireless efforts to eliminate financial barriers impeding access to colorectal cancer screening.
As always, thank you for being a dedicated reader and please stay safe out there. Better days are ahead.
Megan A. Adams, MD, JD, MSc
Editor in Chief