Power Over Colorectal Cancer Gathering empowers community on early detection, prevention 

Drawing about 150 members of the Gainesville community, the UF Health Cancer Center’s Power Over Colorectal Cancer Gathering on Saturday, May 18 at Springhill Church was an inspiring day filled with opportunities to learn about colorectal cancer, from prevention and early detection through treatment and survivorship.

Carolyn M. Tucker, Ph.D., speaks during the Power Over Colorectal Cancer Gathering on May 18 at Springhill Church.

“The purpose of the gathering was to create a comfortable environment for women, men, family members and colorectal cancer specialists to learn from and teach each other ways to prevent and treat colorectal cancer, ways to cope with the physical and emotional impact of having this cancer, and ways to support family members of colorectal cancer survivors,” said Carolyn Tucker, Ph.D., director of the UF Health Cancer Center’s Community-Partnered Cancer Disparities Research Collaborative (CDRC), the UF Florida Blue Endowed Chair in Health Disparities Research and a research professor in the UF department of psychology.

The gathering was presented by the CDRC and the UF Health Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement. It was the fourth in the Power Over Cancer series, which aim to empower community members by providing high-quality health information and create a dialogue about the cancer prevention, care and research at the Cancer Center.

The gathering included presentations on colorectal cancer prevention and new treatments by UF Health oncologists Thomas George, M.D., FACP, FASCO and Leighton Elliott, M.D. UF Provost Scott Angle, Ph.D., spoke about the importance of the event to educate the community on colorectal cancer prevention, detection and treatment. 

Audience members listen during the Power Over Colorectal Cancer event.
The Power Over Colorectal Cancer Gathering aimed to empower community members by providing health-quality health information about colorectal cancer.

Small-group sessions facilitated by UF Health experts and community members gave attendees the opportunity to discuss the impact of colorectal cancer and learn about prevention and support. A panel session allowed people to ask UF Health experts and community members affected by the disease questions about colorectal cancer. Questions ranged from the impact of diet and genetics on colorectal cancer to trends in early-onset colorectal cancer to how to provide support to those coping with the disease. Attendees also learned about opportunities to participate in a wide range of UF research studies.

The Office of Community Outreach and Engagement provided free at-home fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) to screen for colorectal cancer, as well as other educational resources. In addition, community members experienced a giant inflatable colon provided by WellFlorida to see firsthand how cancer develops in the colon and learn about the importance of screening to prevent the disease or detect it early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. 

In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women and the second most common cause of cancer-related death. Compared to white Americans, African Americans are 20% more likely to get a diagnosis of colorectal cancer and 40% more likely to die from colorectal cancer. Routine colorectal cancer screening should begin for all men and women ages 45 to 75. Early detection, through timely and evidence-based screening, is the best way to improve health outcomes of colorectal cancer.

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