Inaugural West Virginia Colorectal Cancer Roundtable held in Summersville

Professionals from around the state met to share ideas and develop strategies to reduce the impact of Colorectal Cancer in WV

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. – A group of concerned stakeholders from across the state met at the inaugural West Virginia Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (WVCCRT) Meeting held in Summersville on April 18, 2024, to share ideas and strategies to reduce the impact of colorectal cancer in West Virginia.

The West Virginia Colorectal Cancer Roundtable Meeting was hosted by the West Virginia Program to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening, the Mountains of Hope Statewide Cancer Coalition, and the American Cancer Society. Stakeholders included representatives from state organizations, the West Virginia Department of Health, the WV Primary Care Association, WV State Legislative Representatives, clinicians from primary care and specialty practices, the pharmaceutical industry, health insurance payers, quality improvement coordinators, and survivors and caregivers.

Throughout the day, guest speakers shared approaches used in West Virginia to address social drivers of health and improve health equity, explored ways to enhance partnerships and communication between primary care providers and gastroenterology and surgical sites, and shared best practices of ways to increase patient education and health literacy. As stakeholders worked in breakout groups, they further discussed and strategized on ways to implement and expand on the areas shared during the presentations. The goal of the West Virginia Colorectal Cancer Roundtable is to develop and implement additional strategies to address these barriers to improve health outcomes related to colorectal cancer.

A group of people at a table looking at a speaker.
Groups worked together to explore issues and barriers and work together to generate solutions and ideas. 

The WVCCRT is an initiative that grows out of the ACS National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (ACS NCCRT). The ACS NCCRT is dedicated to reducing the incidence and mortality from colorectal cancer in the United States through coordinated leadership, strategic planning, and advocacy. The goal for the ACS NCCRT is to increase the use of proven colorectal cancer screening tests among the entire population for whom screening is appropriate. Collaborative efforts at the state level improve the focus and potential of colorectal cancer control activities and further encourages multi-disciplined and cross-sectional partnerships to reach this goal. The WVU Cancer Institute is pleased to play a significant role in bringing the state Colorectal Cancer Roundtable to fruition.

“The colorectal cancer incidence and mortality in WV is above the national rate,” Steve Blankenship, epidemiologist at the West Virginia Cancer Registry, “screening was disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic and has yet to fully recover”.

Colorectal cancer continues to be a significant cause of cancer-related incidence and deaths in West Virginia. Between 2015 and 2019 (the most recent data available) 1,129 West Virginia men and women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 435 died from the disease on average every year. Men and women are equally likely to be diagnosed with or die of colorectal cancer. Most (over 90%) of colorectal cancer diagnoses made in West Virginia are in individuals over the age of 50. However, there has been a growing trend of young adults (ages 20-45) in the United States being diagnosed with the disease since the 1990s. Colorectal cancer screening for average-risk patients, ages 45-75, is the best way to prevent incidence and mortality. Those with a family history or genetic condition may need to be screened earlier and should talk with their healthcare provider.[1]

“We are very pleased with the turn-out and engagement participants had with the topics and the solutions they offered for addressing some of the challenges facing West Virginia’s seeking colorectal cancer screening,” said Susan Eason, program director of the West Virginia Program to Increase Colorectal Screening.  “Moving forward over the next year, participants will select strategic workgroups to continue these conversations and develop strategies to address the challenges. Through these efforts, we hope to improve health outcomes in our state.”

A large group of people stand on a stage.
Professionals from around the state met in Summersville, WV, to share ideas and develop strategies to reduce the impact of Colorectal Cancer in WV.

[1] 2022 West Virginia Cancer Burden Report. WV Cancer Registry, WV Department of Health and Human Resources, Charleston WV, November 2022.