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Researchers develop effective program targeting first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer survivors

UCLA researchers have created an effective program to improve the likelihood of colorectal cancer screenings among first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer survivors.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening can detect cancer in its earliest stages when treatments are more effective and can actually prevent the development of cancer through the removal of pre-cancerous growths in the colon. UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center members, Dr. Roshan Bastani, and colleagues Drs. Beth A. Glenn, Annette E. Maxwell, Patricia Ganz, and Catherine Crespi, developed and tested an intervention program for first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer survivors.

A statewide cancer registry was used to recruit 1,280 first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer survivors, who have not been recently screened for the disease. The study sought to recruit an ethnically-diverse sample including African American, Asian American, and Latino first-degree relatives, not often included in prior research. First-degree relatives were asked to participate in a randomized controlled trial and were placed in an intervention or usual care control condition.

Those in the intervention group received mailed ethnically-targeted print materials informing them about available colorectal cancer tests and encouraging them to get screened. Researchers followed up with a brief one-time telephone counseling session six months later, if they had not yet been screened. All relatives were contacted 12 months after study enrollment to assess receipt of the colorectal cancer screening paperwork. The control group received the print materials after completing the one year survey.

The evidence indicated that CRC screening increased in the intervention group among Latinos, Asian Americans, and non-Latino whites, but not among African Americans. The researchers believe more targeted colorectal cancer education and intervention may be needed in this high risk group.

The complete study is now available online in Cancer.