March presents two important opportunities for everyone in the business of health care to (1) provide information to our communities regarding colon cancer and (2) promote awareness of our roles with regard to colorectal cancer screening, prevention and treatment.
What can you do to observe Colon Cancer Awareness Month?
Talk About It
Encourage people in your community to talk about the risks of colon cancer and discuss the importance of getting screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50.
Send out newsletters or postcards to those in your area. Place flyers in areas that will attract attention: doctors’ offices, local hospitals, grocery stores, banks, community centers, health clubs, etc. Be active in community groups; join a Chamber of Commerce or disease awareness group where you can promote the message of awareness. Send out press releases to the local media or place ads in various publications that will hit your target audience. Use local television, radio, newspapers, community calendars and even your own website or blog to promote awareness.
Each year, more and more celebrities—from Katie Couric and Terrance Howard to Morgan Freeman and Meryl Streep—are coming forward to advocate for colon cancer awareness. They are spreading the message: Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the US, but it is largely preventable. Encourage the use of colorectal cancer screening conversation starters and distribute questions to ask your doctor—talking points between a patient and his or her physician that might help to ease the patient’s fears of not knowing what to ask or where to begin. Questions such as: What screening test(s) do you recommend for me? How do I prepare? What is involved in the test? Is there any risk involved?
Distribute Colon Cancer Awareness Materials
Various organizations supporting colon cancer awareness have free materials available for use.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has numerous materials available free of charge as part of its CDC’s Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign. Resources include print materials—fact sheets, brochures and posters—and television and radio public service announcements.
The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) developed the Blue Star/March Marketing Kit for use by its members to help promote National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the Blue Star, the universal symbol for colon cancer awareness. The kit includes templates for pins, magnets, postcards, banners and radio public service announcements.
The National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA) is dedicated to the eradication of colorectal cancer by promoting the importance of early medical screening and funding research to develop better tests, treatments and, ultimately, a cure. The initiative was co-founded in March 2000 by Katie Couric, Lilly Tartikoff and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF).
Want materials more specific to your practice or center? Create your own. For 2018, Physicians Endoscopy developed a new Colon Cancer Awareness marketing initiative for each of its centers to be handed out to patients and patient caregivers. The main goal of the piece is to help patients develop a better understanding of the difference between a screening colonoscopy and a diagnostic colonoscopy.
Tweet about colorectal cancer prevention to your peers. Post articles and informative videos on your center’s Facebook page. Use social media platforms as a means of sharing your knowledge of ways to prevent colon cancer and why others should screen for it. Share facts, recipes, health tips, health insurance coverage information to those you know. Do your part to spread the word.
Participate in Colon Cancer Awareness Events
Dress in Blue Day: This year, national Dress in Blue Day is Friday, March 2, 2018. Encourage others to do the same to show their support. For example, businesses can allow their employees to wear jeans and a blue T-shirt instead of their usual uniforms. Some people raise awareness and show support for friends or family members who have suffered or are suffering from colon cancer by wearing a shirt that says, “I’m blue for my son” or, “I’m blue for Mike."
The Undy 5000: Created by the Colon Cancer Alliance, the Undy 500 is a 5k run/walk where participants are encouraged to run in their boxers to bring attention to the area affected by colon cancer. Events can be found across the US.
Get Your Rear in Gear: In partnership with the Colon Cancer Coalition, Get Your Rear in Gear (GYRIG) 5K Run/Walks can be found in communities across the US. Celebrating 10 years of achievement in 2014, Get Your Rear in Gear is a grassroots movement created to drive home the importance of colorectal screening. “Get educated. Get screened” is its motto. Find a race in your area.