by Andi Dwyer, Director of Health Promotion
DATA: IT’S EASIER TO FIND THAN YOU THINK
One of our advocates recently called asking for information about the number of cancers diagnosed in her region of Central Illinois. She requested this information so she could write and accurately illustrate to her legislators the burden of colorectal cancer in her local area.
Being a data geek, I was thrilled to get this question. But after responding to her, I realized that many people don’t realize how easy it is to access this information and then use it to advocate.
Data can seem intimidating and scary. But in truth, accessing trustworthy information, reviewing the data and finding people that truly WANT to make a difference is easier than we think. Numbers are really their own language and if used well, they can tell a story.
If you too want to look up information about colorectal cancer in your area, here are a few of the top places to go:
1) Number of People Screened for Colorectal Cancer in My State?
The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is the world’s largest, ongoing telephone health survey system. BRFSS marked its 30th year in 2013 and remains the gold standard of behavioral surveillance. This is where I go to determine how many people have been screened for colorectal cancer by state. It offers analytic tools that provide real-time analysis. Currently its data contains monthly stats from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Palau, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.
2) Number of People Diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer in My State?
The Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute works to provide information on cancer statistics in an effort to reduce the burden of cancer among the U.S. population. They collect incidence*, prevalence** and survival data and then publish reports based off of this data and cancer mortality through tumor registries and reported disease mechanisms. This is the tool I use to determine the number of people diagnosed with CRC by state.
*Incidence: the number of new cases diagnosed in a given period of time. Analogy: Water drops added when turned on spigot to fill up the swimming pool.
**Prevalence: the number of existing cases at a single point in time. Analogy: All the water in a swimming pool.
3) What’s My State Doing With this Information and how can I get involved?
The Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T. from the National Cancer Institute is a portal that provides access to web-based resources that assist in:
- Assessing the cancer and/or risk factor burden within a given state.
- Identifying potential partners that may already be working with high-risk populations.
- Understanding the current research findings and recommendations.
- Accessing and downloading evidence-based programs and products.
- Finding guidelines for planning and evaluation.
FIGHT CRC’S CHALLENGE TO YOU
I challenge you to visit the websites listed above and research colorectal cancer incidence in your state. You may be surprised at the information you find, maybe even hooked!
Use this data to advocate and spread awareness; there is so much you can do with this information! And it’s right at your fingertips!
WHAT WILL YOU DO? Tell us how you used this information here.