EMU project teaches school kids about cancer prevention in effort to help others

by Ward Mullens, Published March 16, 2009

YPSILANTI —It’s a grassroots movement to stop a killer.

The killer is colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of death among cancer patients, surpassed only by lung cancer.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) can largely be prevented through proper screening. However, about 40 percent of adults have never been screened for colorectal cancer as  recommended, and this number is even higher among minority/underserved populations.

In observance of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, Eastern Michigan University started an innovative intervention to promote CRC screening in Ypsilanti School District schools.

The students at the Ypsilanti High School and Lincoln Consolidated High School and Middle School were trained to become colon health ambassadors and wrote letters to their loved ones to deliver important messages about the importance of colorectal cancer screenings for all people 50 and older.

 “We have reached more than 1,600 students in the Lincoln and Ypsilanti high schools and middle schools so far,” said Jeanne McDonagh, instructor of nursing.

Forty EMU community health nursing students were supervised by four nursing clinical faculty members (Marty Raymond, Rosa Emeigh, Kim Allan and Jeanne McDonagh) and were trained to deliver age-appropriate classroom presentations about colorectal cancer and colorectal screening guidelines.
 “The project intervention expects to create a more effective delivery to address missed opportunities for educating and promoting early detection of this deadly disease,” said Tsu-Yin Wu, associate professor of nursing.

There is at least one early result that the message about colorectal cancer is finding its audience.

McDonagh said that the study investigator for the project received a phone call within hours after the presentations were delivered at Ypsilanti High School from an a woman inquiring about the relationships between colorectal cancer and colonoscopy.

 The Ann Arbor Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) was funded for this project by the Michigan Public Health Institute.

Ward Mullens

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