June Is National Cancer Survivor Month

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Resources and Research Blog
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June marks a special celebration and acknowledgment of cancer survivorship! This is an exciting time as we continue to grow the number of treatment and early detection strategies to minimize the impact of a colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosis and see improved survival rates.   There was a time when a colorectal cancer diagnosis and the diagnosis of most cancers meant surviving a year or two or even just months: We’ve come a long way! Check out the Path to a Cure report to learn more about Fight Colorectal Cancer’s (Fight CRC) specific targeted work in these areas.

Colorectal Cancer Progress and the Road Ahead

With the great progress in treatment and early detection, there are more than 1.5 million colorectal cancer survivors in the United States. The five-year survival rate for people with colorectal cancer is 65% (all colorectal cancer survivors stages combined). But it is not lost on Fight CRC the harsh reality that remains: For many patients, survival rates are not optimal, and we must drive the efforts to increase and improve screening and treatment for colorectal cancer.

Fight CRC – Prioritizing Colorectal Cancer Survivorship in 2022-2023

Fight CRC hosted the Think Tank focused on treatment in December 2021 and continues to move targeted efforts ahead to convene experts to advance treatment, specifically for late-stage CRC patients. In addition to these efforts, Fight CRC is dedicated to hosting another Think Tank meeting in 2023 based on the survivorship and recurrence section of Path to a Cure. The goal for this Think Tank is to advance access to colorectal cancer survivorship care, since quality of life issues are becoming a priority that needs to be addressed as people are living longer.

The following are specific targeted areas for consideration as Fight CRC and partners harness a collective action approach to improved survivorship care (citation PTAC report 1):

  • There is an opportunity to provide guidance and consensus on CRC survivorship standards. Part of the equation is delivery of care for virtual, telehealth, or in-person visits. It’s time we have focused discussions on how to support the unique issues faced by young patients, late-stage patients, and those with specific tumor types and/or receiving specific types of targeted therapies.
  • Patients must have access to survivorship care, must be reimbursed through insurance, and barriers to care must be eliminated. For those without insurance, we need to address access and stronger equity efforts.
  • Our goal is for patients to live longer and enjoy their quality of life. To do this successfully, survivorship research efforts must elaborate and inform patients and their loved ones on the many issues relevant to long-term survival and risk of recurrence.
  • Late-stage survivors struggle with fear of cancer recurrence/progression and feelings of powerlessness, sadness, or frustration from the life-changing effects of treatment and surgery.
  • We must also consider caregivers as survivors, as there is growing research and focus on the role and needs of caregivers.

What We Know from Colorectal Cancer Survivors: Connecting the Dots!

Fight CRC has conducted our own research with colorectal cancer survivors and advocates to share needs of survivors with the larger colorectal cancer community. Based on the results of our dedicated approach to rate and rank to prioritize needs of survivors, the most reported needs are (citation 2):

  1. Mental and behavioral support, specifically for survivors after finishing active treatment. 
  2. Tailored programs specifically for colorectal cancer patients and addressing unique needs.
  3. Stronger integration of caregivers and family in supporting cancer survivors and resources for survivors and caregivers alike.

resources for survivors and caregivers alike.

The Path to a Cure report and our strategies are directly tethered to what patients have said they need.

Next Steps

Hosting a dedicated survivorship and recurrence Think Tank will take intense focus in this next year, with key experts and policymakers needing to consider where we can innovate in our efforts to make the most impact for colorectal cancer survivorship; knowing this plan may require a phased approach with a number of partners and collaborators in order to make all of the needed progress colorectal cancer survivors deserve. 

Join Fight CRC this June – Cancer Survivors Month – and all year round as we support survivors and for access to all of our free online resources for the colorectal cancer community. From being newly diagnosed to treatment to surgery, to survivorship: we have helpful information to guide you through this unfamiliar and unwelcome terrain. Other resources that you may find helpful include:

  • Our Patient Provider Finder, Clinical Trial Finder, and Biomarkers minimagazine are just a few of our valuable resources reachable by your fingertips from your own technology in the comfort and privacy of your home. 
  • Fight CRC’s Your Guide in the Fight Resource Meetups are free online gatherings for people affected by colorectal cancer seeking access to resources and peer-to-peer support. Whether you have just been diagnosed, are receiving treatment, or are supporting someone who is facing CRC, these meetups are a safe and reliable place to talk to people who have similar experiences to yours while learning about resources available to you from Fight CRC and partners alike.
  • Upcoming events: Be sure to check out our Event page to see what’s coming up!
  • Finally, if you want to get out of the house, get moving, and raise money for research, consider joining us for our largest fundraiser of the year Climb for a Cure 2022, taking place August 6 or 7, 2022. Plan to attend one of the 11 glorious locations for camaraderie, fitness, fun, and an amazing cause. Each mountain we climb – every road we walk down elevates and celebrates our community as we raise funds for life-changing research in the fight against colorectal cancer. 

Citation:

1) Path to a Cure Report. Springfield, MO: Fight Colorectal Cancer; 2021. Retrieved from http://www.fightcrc.org

2) Worrall SF, Dwyer AJ, Garcia RM, McAbee KE, and Davis AQ. 2021. Priorities of Unmet Needs for Those Affected by Colorectal Cancer: Considerations From a Series of Nominal Group Technique Sessions. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2021 Feb 19;19(6):693-699. doi: 10.6004/jnccn.2020.7655. PMID: 33607609.

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