Balancing hope and reality: The promise and peril of blood-based colorectal cancer screening - April 2024

Blood-based tests are important to expand options for patients and their physicians in colorectal cancer screening. But tests that both prevent and detect colorectal cancer early should continue to be the encouraged gold standard. After all, it’s better to prevent colorectal cancer before it occurs than catch it afterward, says Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program. Read STAT News article

Colorectal cancer death rates climb for men and women under 50 and so does the urgent need for early screening - March 2024

In its 2024 Report on annual cancer rates and deaths, the American Cancer Society highlights that colorectal cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death for men younger than 50 and the second leading cause of cancer death for women under 50. Folasade May, MD, PhD, MPhil, UCLA Health cancer prevention researcher and gastroenterologist, and a member of the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, addressed the trend and what needs to happen to stop it. UCLA Health News & Insights story

Dorian Mendoza, MD, increases colorectal cancer knowledge among Los Angeles Hispanic community - March 2024

Dr. Mendoza participated in the 2024 UCLA Health Colorectal Cancer Awareness Campaign and was able to extend the reach of the campaign by creating content in Spanish in partnership with Univision 34. Watch as he promotes screening and risk factor awareness through a Minuto de Salud PSA and Facebook Live.

Why a healthy diet is crucial for reducing risk of colorectal cancer and improving results after diagnosis - March 2024

Although rates overall have been declining thanks to increases in awareness and screening, colorectal cancer remains the fourth-most-common cause of cancer among U.S. adults. Paying attention to lifestyle and diet can help reduce risk and is critical for those who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Carl Nordstrom, MD, health sciences assistant clinical professor of medicine, and Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN, lead GI dietitian, stress the importance of vitamin D, fiber and other dietary needs in this UCLA Health News & Insights story

Genetic testing: For people at high risk of colorectal cancer it can reveal the path forward - March 2024

For people with certain risk factors, a periodic colonoscopy may not be enough to screen for colorectal cancer. They could benefit from genetic testing. If testing shows a person is carrying an inherited mutation linked to a higher chance of developing colon cancer, they can undergo more frequent screenings, said Nikhila Ramesh, a UCLA Health genetic counselor. UCLA Health News & Insights story

Know your risk: 10 things Blacks need to know about colorectal cancer - March 2024

Colorectal cancer remains a significant health concern, particularly for the Black community, which faces higher incidence rates and lower survival rates compared to the white population. According to a study, Black Americans are about 20 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer and 40 percent more likely to die from it than other groups. Despite these statistics, screening rates among Black Americans are historically lower, contributing to delayed detection and poorer outcomes. (BDO) sat down with Dr. Folasade P. May, co-leader of the Stand Up To Cancer Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team, to discuss the latest data on colorectal cancer disparities, including the factors driving these trends and the importance of early detection. Read BDO article

Dorian Mendoza, MD, interviewed by Univision - March 2023

Hispanic people in the U.S. have low colorectal cancer screening rates. UCLA Health partnered with Univision for National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to address these disparities. Dr. Mendoza and UCLA Health patient Lazaro Barajas discuss screening and survivorship. Watch interview

Eating right can dramatically reduce the risk of colorectal cancer - March 2023

Colorectal cancer is among the most common forms of cancer, accounting for nearly two million new cases each year in the United States. That number could be significantly reduced, however, if people adopted better lifestyle habits, said Yaceczko, an advanced-practice dietitian at the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. Learn more on the UCLA Health blog

Colorectal cancer screening guidelines have changed to address rise in cases among younger adults - March 2023

As rates of colorectal cancer rise among younger adults, updated guidelines calling for screenings to start at age 45 instead of 50 are expected to lead to earlier detection and improved outcomes. Chanthel Kokoy-Mondragon, MD, UCLA Health gastroenterologist, said low-risk people can choose among a range of options, from an at-home stool test to a colonoscopy. Learn more on the UCLA Health blog

More young people are being diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. Why? - March 2023

Colorectal cancer rates in younger people have surged in recent years. More troubling, most cases diagnosed are at an advanced stage and researchers aren't sure what's causing the cancers. According to new statistics from the American Cancer Society, the proportion of colorectal cancer that occurred in people under age 55 doubled between 1995 and 2019, from 11% to 20%. That means that, of the roughly 1.3 million people in the U.S. living with colorectal cancer in the United States in 2019, about 273,800 were younger than age 55. “This cancer type is particularly asymptomatic and can remain that way for a long time," said Dr. Folasade P. May, an associate professor of medicine in the University of California, Los Angeles Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. "So the tumor can grow and grow and even spread before there are symptoms that prompt someone to seek medical attention.” Read NBC News article

UCLA Health promotes colorectal cancer screening at inflatable colon event - March 2023

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and UCLA Health is pulling out all the stops to convince people to get screened. KCBS/KCAL interviews Dr. Folasade P. May, at the UCLA Health inflatable colon event to promote screening for colorectal cancer.

At-home stool tests for colorectal cancer screening are rising in popularity, but are they right for you? - March 2023

At-home stool tests can be an easier way to screen for colorectal cancer than a dreaded colonoscopy. As the rates of the cancer continue to rise in younger people, home tests might help improve detection and get people treated sooner.

March marks the beginning of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed and third most common cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Diagnosis of the disease is on the rise among younger people under age 55, according to a new study from the ACS, and it's being diagnosed at more advanced stages. Dr. Folasade P. May, a gastroenterologist, health equity expert, and health services researcher at the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity and the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, was interviewed by ABC News on how to know if this is a good option for you.

Establishing and implementing comprehensive at-home stool-based colorectal cancer screenings in medically underserved communities around the country, including Los Angeles - March 2023

Dr. Folasade P. May is an associate professor of medicine and a researcher in the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. May is also a co-leader of Stand Up To Cancer's Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team, which is establishing and implementing comprehensive at-home stool-based colorectal cancer screenings in medically underserved communities around the country, including Los Angeles. Listen to KOST 103.5FM podcast and read interview

UCLA Health walks community through risks, symptoms of colorectal cancer - March 2023

UCLA Health assembled a giant inflatable colon March 3 to engage and inform patients, Bruins and the local Westwood community on colon cancer in recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Read more in the Daily Bruin

UCLA Health helps lead new $8M initiative to improve colorectal cancer screening rates nationwide - October 2021

UCLA Health has been named a key partner and major grant recipient in an innovative national initiative launched by Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C), Exact Sciences and Providence Saint John's Health Center, aimed at addressing healthcare disparities in colorectal cancer care and prevention. The new Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team will receive $8 million – $6 million from Exact Sciences and $2 million from Providence Saint John's Health Center -- for an innovative and comprehensive approach that will bring together leading researchers, patient advocates, community leaders, and clinicians to accomplish several goals, including improving colorectal cancer screening in medically underserved communities in three ‘SU2C Zones': Los Angeles, Greater Boston, and Great Plains Tribal Communities in South Dakota.

As one of the three “Dream Team” partners, UCLA Health will help lead a three-year robust screening, outreach, and training effort in community health clinics in the Los Angeles area, which has a particularly low screening rate for colorectal cancer, the second most common cause of cancer-related death in American men and women combined. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a dramatic drop in participation in colorectal cancer screening,” said Folasade May, MD, PhD, MPhil, a gastroenterologist, health equity expert, and health services researcher at the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity and the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Many individuals have delayed essential medical care like cancer screening, especially in racially diverse and low-income communities where cancer outcomes are the direst. Our goal is to make sure that everyone, regardless of background, gets screened for colorectal cancer.”

Dr. May, who is a national Dream Team co-leader, is committed to empowering healthcare providers who serve Los Angeles and other participating communities by providing tools, strategies, and innovative community engagement approaches that will effectively address screening disparities. Full story

Should you take aspirin to prevent colorectal cancer? - May 2021

Mona Rezapour, MD, UCLA Health gastroenterologist, explains the guidelines for low-dose aspirin use and aspirin's relationship to colorectal cancer in a recent  UCLA Health blog.


2021 Badge Honoree

Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil, 80% blog interview with the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) - March 2021

On March 1, UCLA Health became the grand prize recipient of the NCCRT 2021 80% in Every Community Awards, a program designed to recognize individuals and organizations who are dedicating their time, talent and expertise to advancing initiatives that support the shared goal of achieving colorectal cancer screening rates of 80 percent and higher. Dr. May, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program, was interviewed in a recent NCCRT blog on UCLA Health's multifaceted approach to increasing colorectal cancer screenings despite COVID-19.


Target 45

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recomments colorectal cancer screening to begin at age 45, rather than 50 - May 2021

It's official: The panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine known as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends colorectal cancer screening for Americans to begin at age 45, rather than at 50, as was previously the standard. The new recommendations, finalized and published on May 18th in the Journal of the American Medical Association, make an additional 21 million adults eligible for insurance-covered screening. Options include direct visualization tests such as colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, or stool-based tests such as the FIT.

But who are the people making these recommendations? And how do they go about it? The USPSTF, established in 1984, is an all-volunteer panel of 16 primary care physicians and nurses from across the country. They span disciplines — from psychology to family medicine to internal medicine to obstetrics and gynecology — and work together to evaluate scientific research and come up with preventive screening recommendations to improve the health of Americans of all ages. “We have preventive therapy recommendations that really go from birth to death,” says Carol Mangione, MD, MSPH, chief of general internal medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine and UCLA Health and vice chair of the USPSTF, of which she has been a member since 2016.

The task force was developed “with the notion that it would be primary care experts making recommendations that providers in primary care delivery could then follow,” she says. The group's recommendations are based on the best evidence in scientific literature and aim to protect and improve the health of asymptomatic individuals."We are a panel of volunteers and we are independent of the U.S. government,” Dr. Mangione says. The USPSTF is also independent of any insurance company, though the passage of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 requires the USPSTF's screening recommendations to be covered benefits without out of pocket costs for patients by public and private health insurance.

“We actually do not consider insurance coverage or cost when we make our recommendations,” Dr. Mangione says. “Our recommendations are really grounded in trying to improve the health of all Americans by balancing the benefits versus the harms of any screening test, preventive medication, or behavioral treatment that we might be recommending.”

Prospective members of the task force are extensively vetted before being invited to join the group, she adds, to ensure they haven't received large amounts of financial support from pharmaceutical or diagnostics companies for their past research or have other potential financial or intellectual conflicts of interest. Members of the USPSTF are all experienced researchers as well as primary care providers who use their expertise to evaluate scientific studies and develop timely health recommendations. They typically reassess these recommendations every five years or so. That interval can be shortened when new compelling scientific evidence arises. In the case of colorectal cancer screenings, “there were some important scientific papers that showed that there was a trend toward people getting colon cancer at younger ages, and there was also some evidence showing that Black persons are more likely to get colon cancer and are more likely to die from it,” Dr. Mangione says. “So with that new evidence, we started revising this topic a little bit sooner.”

The group last issued recommendations on colorectal cancer screening in 2016. It released its new draft guidelines in November, 2020, which were finalized in May, 2021. Once the task force examines all relevant research, it publishes a draft of recommendations which are open to public commentary. Every public comment is reviewed and considered prior to drafting the final recommendation, Dr. Mangione says.  The group's entire process is transparent, she says, adding, “I think the public providers really trust what the task force does.” Dr. Mangione says helping to guide primary care providers and serve as a voice for preventive public health through the USPSTF is a great honor.

“For somebody like me, who's had a long career doing research, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations are really right at that interface of clinical research, evidence and policy that affect care delivery to the public,” she says. “It's an incredible privilege to be working at that interface and to be using my experience to help contribute to a process that really tries to make very strong, well-grounded, evidence-based recommendations for our primary care providers and patients to follow.”


2021 Badge Honoree

UCLA Health wins grand prize from National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable for colorectal cancer screening efforts during March's Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month - March 2021

Award honors individuals and organizations making tremendous progress toward the goal to achieve colorectal cancer screening rates of 80% and higher despite challenges with COVID-19

The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), founded by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is honoring UCLA Health as the Grand Prize winner of the 2021 80% In Every Community National Achievement Award, given in recognition of distinguished, ongoing efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening rates across the United States.

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in men and women, yet it can often be prevented or found at an early stage, when it's small and may be easier to treat, with regular screening.

"Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful tools for preventing colorectal cancer or finding it early," said Richard Wender, MD, Chair of Family Medicine and Community Health, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and NCCRT chair. "Yet screening rates remain low in many communities and the COVID-19 pandemic has further challenged efforts to address inadequate screening. We are honored to recognize the dedication of these community leaders that are working tirelessly to increase the number of people that have access to life-saving colorectal cancer screening, especially in disproportionately affected groups."

80% in Every Community is an NCCRT initiative that works with community health centers, health plans, hospitals, health systems, employers, and others to reach 80% colorectal cancer screening rates nationally. More than 1,800 organizations have signed a pledge to make this goal a priority. The 80% In Every Community National Achievement Award includes one grand prize winner and five other honorees. Each receives a monetary award to be used to support continued efforts to increase screening for colorectal cancer.

This year's recipients include UCLA Health, Los Angeles, CA, as the grand prize winner.

Colorectal cancer is on the rise in young adults - October 2020
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer. Every week over 1,000 Americans die from it. Currently, one in ten people diagnosed with colorectal cancer is under age 50. According to digestive diseases specialist Lynn Schaprio Connolly, MD, MSCR, colorectal cancer has been on the rise in people under age 50 for several decades, even as overall deaths from colorectal cancer are declining. Unfortunately, even young people who appear to be the epitome of health may suffer from colorectal cancer. One is actor Chadwick Boseman, who died from the disease at age 43. Read more about what you should know about prevention, symptoms, and when you should seek out care

Dr. Folasade P. May was interviewed by ABC and BBC and wrote an opinion piece for CNN on how Chadwick Boseman's death shed a much needed light on colorectal cancer - September 2020
The passing of Chadwick Boseman at the age of 43 sent shock waves through not just the Black community, but the entire world. Dr. May was interviewed on the importance of early detection and healthcare disparities that impact colorectal cancer detection and treatment.

CNN opinion piece - Chadwick Boseman's death she a much needed light on colorectal cancer  |  ABC 20/20 News Special “Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute for a King:" Colon cancer and its impact on BIPOC communities |  Dr. May More - Sree's Sunday #NYTReadalong, WITN-TVKNX Radio, and BBC World Service Radio, which was syndicated by NPR stations across the U.S.


Scopy Award

UCLA receives four SCOPY Awards for 2019 colorectal cancer awareness campaign - October 2019

On behalf of UCLA Health, the Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases submitted three entries for the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) 2019 SCOPY Awards in May. The ACG honored UCLA Health with not three but FOUR awards! ACG's SCOPY Award recognizes the achievements of ACG members in their community engagement, education and awareness efforts for colorectal cancer prevention. Awardees are featured in the 2019 SCOPY Awards Booklet and shared with the members of the College. Winners will also be honored during the SCOPY Award Ceremony & Workshop at the 2019 ACG Scientific Meeting in San Antonio, TX on October 27, 2019.

The success of our system-wide effort was the result of a partnership among administration, faculty, staff and researchers across the health care enterprise to effectively implement a focused action plan. Through the multiple layers of collaboration, the UCLA CRC campaign capitalized on current resources and leveraged existing expertise. We are thrilled to receive this recognition! Campaign champions included the members of the  UCLA Colon Cancer Quality Workgroup, Edgar Corona, MPH (2018-19 GI quality scholar), and Sylvia Lopez, MPH.

  1. The UCLA Health Colorectal Cancer Quality Workgroup was awarded a SCOPY Quality Improvement Award for "Quality Improvement in Colorectal Cancer Screening at UCLA Health"
  2. The UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center was recognized for Best-Coordinated Community Health Intervention for "Addressing Health Disparities in Colorectal Cancer Screening"
  3. UCLA Health won honors for Most Far-Reaching & Impactful Initiative for "Inaugural UCLA Health Colorectal Cancer Awareness Campaign"
  4. David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (including all three teams listed above) was honored as a SCOPY Incubator of Excellence in CRC Prevention Award for Coordinated Collaboration Across the UCLA Health System

Colorectal cancer screening campaign receives eHealthcare Leadership Award - October 2019
The eHealthcare Leadership Awards, which draw over 1,000 entries, exclusively recognizes the very best websites and digital communications of healthcare organizations. The inaugural UCLA Health Colorectal Cancer Screening Campaign, led by the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, was recognized with a gold award for best integrative campaign. Campaign members and the UCLA Health marketing team worked together to develop great content, build strong user engagement, and find creative and innovative ways to enhance the user experience across all our digital and social channels.