Sarah AbouElSeoud

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US among men and women combined. Screening can prevent colorectal cancer, or detect it earlier, when treatment is more successful. That is why the Prevent Cancer Foundation held its 13th annual Dialogue for Action on Colorectal Cancer Screening:

(From L. to R.) Kamin VanGuilder, Chyke Doubeni and Barry Berger

Prevention Now for a Healthier Tomorrow on March 23 through March 25 in Baltimore, Maryland, bringing together a diverse group of 192 stakeholders from across the country.

The Dialogue for Action is for health professionals but the conference impacts all populations through the post-conference activities of the attendees. The Dialogue offers an opportunity to share experiences, knowledge, current research findings, and information about pertinent legislation as well as innovations in screening programs and awareness campaigns. Individuals working at the state level communicate with individuals working at the federal level and people working in the public sector communicate with individuals in the private sector. Attendees take the knowledge gained, along with the connections they make, back to their communities and use it to fortify their efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening.

Hallmarks of the Dialogue for Action conference, such as conversations and workshops, ensure that attendees walk away with practical applications they may implement when they return to their communities. Dr. Sidney Winawer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center put it this way: “The conversations [at Dialogue] lead to action.” The Foundation follows up with attendees to chart their progress and then shares this information with attendees, so they may continue to learn from and be motivated by each other long after the conference.

(From L. to R.) Marcus Plescia and Don Nease

One recurring theme of this year’s Dialogue was quality. This topic was touched upon by Dr. David Greenwald of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy when he said that the quality of the colonoscopy is critical to removing polyps starting with an individual’s very first colonoscopy. Another presenter on this topic was Dr. Marion Nadel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who described the existing oversight systems for colonoscopy and the need for an accreditation process to establish indicators of quality that must be met for accreditation. Such a system would make it easier for patients to know if their doctors meet standards of quality, and it would also be useful for primary care physicians in making referrals.

If you attended the 2011 Dialogue for Action, we would love to hear your feedback and comments about the conference.