Mercy Health Earns Blue Star Recognition for Advancing Colorectal Cancer Screening

Mercy Health, a Catholic health ministry serving Ohio and Kentucky, announces that it has received Blue Star Recognition from the Ohio Partners for Cancer Control (OPPC). This recognition acknowledges that Mercy Health is a hospital system that has taken extraordinary measures to advance initiatives supporting the goal to screen 80% of adults 50 and over for colorectal cancer by 2018. 


Mercy Health received the recognition after launching a colorectal cancer task force in 2016 that worked on a wide array of initiatives to ensure more patients had their recommended screening. These initiatives included patient reminder calls and messages, patient and physician education pieces that emphasize the different types of screenings available and social media campaigns that drew strong community engagement.


Over the course of 2016, 3,900 patients in Ohio and Kentucky scheduled their colonoscopies or screening blood tests as a result and 64.8% of all eligible patients had their recommended screening, an increase of 2.5% on the previous year. In Cincinnati, nearly 67% of eligible patients had their screening.


This incredible success is a key part of Mercy Health’s commitment to the 80% by 2018 initiative, a shared goal led by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT). Leading public health organizations, such as OPCC and the American Cancer Society are rallying organizations to embrace this shared goal. When adults get screened for colorectal cancer, it can be detected early at a stage when treatment is most likely to be successful and in some cases, it can be prevented through the detection and removal of precancerous polyps. According to a 2015 study, if we can achieve 80% by 2018, 277,000 cases and 203,000 colorectal cancer deaths would be prevented by 2030.


“While we saw a strong uptick in patients having their colorectal cancer screenings, we still have work to do. We are continuing our colorectal cancer screening campaign to hit our goal to screen 80% of adults 50 and over for colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Anton Decker, Chief Clinical Officer and President, Mercy Health Physicians. “Our results thus far and the Blue Star recognition from Ohio Partners for Cancer Control and American Cancer Society tells we are on the right track to ensure that our patients are aware of and benefitting from the early detection screening provides. Screening really does save lives and there are different screening options available, such as an in-home screening, in addition to a colonoscopy.”


“Mercy Health is using creative, innovative and thought-provoking strategies to raise awareness of colon cancer and the importance of screening,” said Amy Boehm, senior manager with the American Cancer Society and co-chair of the OPCC’s 80% by 2018 committee. “OPCC encourages the entire cancer community to spread the message about the importance of colorectal cancer screening and to help unify our efforts using the Blue Star as a symbol of hope for a future free of colon cancer.”


Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Doctors diagnose more than 135,000 adults with colorectal cancer each year. Colorectal cancer is also the most preventable form of cancer. Screenings allow for the detection of cancer at the early stages when treatment is most likely to be successful, and, in some cases, can be prevented through the detection and removal of precancerous polyps.


About one in three adults between 50 and 75 years old – about 23 million people – do not have the recommended screening. Achieving an 80% screening rate by 2018 would prevent 277,000 colorectal cancer cases and 203,000 colorectal cancer deaths by 2030.