CDPHP Collaborative News - Spotlight on: Working together to increase colorectal cancer screening in Alaska - MARCH 2016

Alaska Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

CDPHP Collaborative News

Safe and Healthy Me - Eat Well, Move More, Stay Safe, Tobacco Free.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Resources


> Screen for Life Campaign with Katie Couric

> I Got Screened campaign

> Alaska Colorectal Cancer Partnership on Facebook

Family History Information at My Family Health Portrait

Choosing the right test for Colorectal Screening


> Preventive Screenings PSA: Take charge of your health. Take charge of your life.

Other Resources:

> ANTHC Colorectal Cancer Control Program

> Prevent Cancer Foundation

> American Cancer Society

> Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

> Alaska Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion -Safe and Healthy Me Screening Materials

I got screened. Now I'm talking about it.

MARCH 2016


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Spotlight on:

Working together to increase colorectal cancer screening in Alaska

Julie Wrigley and Company - Colorectal Cancer Survivor

Julie Wrigley felt uncomfortable and bloated and thought there might be something wrong with her digestion. Thinking it was a food allergy, the Anchorage lawyer and mother of three had removed different foods from her diet, but that didn’t help. She visited a number of doctors, including her primary care doctor who asked if she knew her family’s medical history.

“I realized I didn’t know that answer,” she said. “Both of my parents are alive, but I never asked them those questions directly.”

Asking those questions revealed that her father had had polyps removed from his colon. When Wrigley mentioned that, her doctor recommended a baseline colonoscopy. A 40-year-old marathon runner and vegetarian at the time, Wrigley questioned the test, believing it was only for older people. The colonoscopy diagnosed stage 3 colon cancer that required significant surgery and 12 rounds of chemotherapy.

Wrigley’s lesson? Know your family’s medical history.

“Listen to your body and do something about it,” she said. “And listen to your doctor.”

Wrigley is joining others in a call for action. The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable is challenging Alaska, and all other states, to increase the screening for colorectal cancer to “80% by 2018”. In order to meet this goal of screening more adults 50 and older, health care providers, cancer prevention advocates, businesses and other partners are invited to join the Alaska Colorectal Cancer Partnership to increase awareness about colorectal cancer, increase access to screening, and decrease the number of Alaskans who die from this disease.   

The colorectal cancer screening rate in Alaska is just 63%, with a slow trend up during the past three years.[1] The Alaska Colorectal Cancer Partnership is striving to increase that percentage, knowing that colon cancer is preventable, screenable and beatable.  The chance of surviving colon cancer greatly increases when it’s found at an early stage.  Cancers of the colon and rectum have a 90% survival rate when the cancer is localized, or confined to the colon or rectum. The survival rate drops to 70% when the cancer is regionalized, or spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes.[2]

Early Detection

Screening for colorectal cancer is recommended for those at average risk to begin at age 50 and at age 40 if they are Alaska Native, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Screening is recommended earlier than 50 if you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps – just like Wrigley did. There are several tests to consider, including a colonoscopy every 10 years, a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or a yearly FOBT/FIT test (Fecal Occult Blood Test or Fecal Immunochemical Test) that look for blood in the stool. For more information on which screening option is right for you, talk with your healthcare provider or visit this link:  Choosing the right test for Colorectal Screening.


According to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, cancer risk can be lowered by living a healthy lifestyle:

  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes at least five days a week;
  • Maintain a healthy weight;
  • Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains; 
  • Eat less red meat and avoid processed meat, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs or cold cuts
  • Don’t smoke; 
  • Limit your alcohol use to no more than one drink a day for women, and two drinks a day for men; and 
  • Get screened for cancer.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so be on the lookout for Nolan The Colon, the inflatable colon making visits to colorectal cancer events across Alaska. Nolan the Colon will be featured at the Alaska Native Medical Center, Southcentral Foundation in both Anchorage and Mat Su, and Fairbanks Tanana Chiefs. Visit to hear from Alaskans who got screened and are now sharing their stories.

Take the pledge

Visit Alaska’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program and pledge to work with other concerned Alaskans, health care providers, worksites, and community health clinics to increase colorectal cancer screening to 80% by 2018.


  1. Alaska Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2014 data
  2. American Cancer Society. Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures, 2014-2015.


Alaska CDPHP Public Health Webinars

Key Section Publications

Save the Date - March 2016

Line One: Dr. Thad Woodard - Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Screening

Dr. Mark Kimmins & Dr. Daniel Rossi, both with AK Colorectal Surgery, and Kimberly Morgan, American Cancer Society, will take part. 


AK Academy Of Family Physicians - Winter Update

  • When: March 11-13, 2016
  • Where: Hotel Alyeska, Girdwood
  • Learn More>


Child, Adolescent and Family Behavioral Health Conference

FYI - Registration INCLUDES Wednesday, March 23, which is the first day of the Early Childhood Mental Health Institute Conference (see below) - it's also the last day of the Child, Adolescent and Family Behavioral Health Conference.

  • When: March 21-23, 2016
  • Where: Egan Convention Center, Anchorage
  • Learn More>


Early Childhood Mental Health Institute Conference

FYI - The first day of this conference, March 23, is also the last day of the Child, Adolescent and Family Behavioral Health Conference (see above).

  • When: March 23-25, 2016
  • Where: Egan Convention Center, Anchorage
  • Learn More>


Full Lives Conference

For Direct Support Professionals - Pathways to Full Community Involvement

  • When: March 30-31, 2016
  • Where: Hotel Captain Cook, Anchorage
  • Learn More>

Save the Date -
April  2016

AK Chapter, American College Of Physicians 2016 Meeting

  • When: March 31-April 2, 2016
  • Where: Sheraton of Anchorage
  • Learn More>


AK Psychiatric Association 23rd

Annual CME Meeting

  • When: April 15-17, 2016
  • Where: Hotel Alyeska, Girdwood
  • Learn More>


Alaska Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) Forum

  • When: April 25-29, 2016
  • Where: ANTHC COB Bldg Conf Rms 1, 2, 3, Anchorage
  • Learn More>


2016 Alaska Heart Run

  • When: April 23, 2016
  • Where: Alaska Airlines Center, Anchorage
  • Learn More>

Safe and Healthy Me - Video Stories

Meet David: Exercise relieves chronic back pain Safe and Healthy Me