CHESI, Southern Seven Health Department working to promote cancer screenings
Community Health and Emergency Services, CHESI, Southern Seven Health Department and the University of Chicago’s Center for Asian Health Equity have partnered to increase colorectal cancer screening rates in Southern Illinois.
The project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is part of the Illinois Colorectal Cancer Alliance to Reduce Mortality and Enhance Screening, IL-CARES, program.
Those involved with the program say that while the United States has witnessed tremendous progress against colorectal cancer due to increased screening rates over the past several decades and Illinois has witnessed pockets of improvement due to targeted efforts, Illinois’ screening rate still lags behind at 66.7 percent, placing it in the last quartile across the nation, according to Federal data.
With the current coronavirus pandemic, colorectal cancer screening has declined 86 percent, according to an analysis by Epic Health Research Network.
Both CHESI and Southern Seven Health Department are located in the southern region of Illinois, which is one of three nationally designated colorectal cancer hot spots in the United States where death rates are considered unnecessarily high.
The highest of these are in the lower Mississippi Delta, which includes the counties served by Southern Seven Health Department and CHESI.
Together, Southern Seven Health Department and CHESI aim to save lives in this colorectal cancer hot spot region through community outreach, community education, community-clinic linkage, increased preventive screenings and ultimately improving access to services.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 50, with several organizations supporting the screening beginning at age 45.
One way to screen is a FIT (a stool-based test) that should be performed yearly to detect and prevent colorectal cancer.
CHESI is also a partner with the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer program. CHESI shares that women 21 and older should receive pap smears every three years to detect cervical cancer and women 40 and older receive mammograms every year to detect breast cancer.
Those who are eligible and have not yet received their annual cancer screenings can call Cornellia Dickerson at 618-734-4167 to learn more about their testing options.