Division A - Public Relations Programs
Category 2 - Public Service
M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando: Helping Central Floridians Digest Information About Colon Cancer
Michelle Lynch, Christine Martinez, APR

Award of Distinction

Research/Situation Analysis: Colon or colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths for Americans following lung and breast cancer in women and lung and prostate cancer in men, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). In 2007, more than 154,000 Americans will be diagnosed, and over 52,000 will die. In Florida, 11,000 cases will be diagnosed.
While these statistics are sobering, the good news is most deaths can be prevented using available screenings and treatments. Colon cancer is curable 90 percent of the time when detected early. Also, screenings can be used to detect certain pre-cancerous growths allowing them to be removed before developing into cancer and screenings can detect cancer earlier, when it’s easier to treat. Because screenings can save lives, getting more people tested is a public health priority.
Unfortunately, a 2006 Harris poll revealed that three out of four Americans ages 50-70 failed to get screened regularly. And, according to the latest health brief from the Health Information National Trends Survey, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, the majority of Americans don’t even know the age when they should begin screenings.
Because colon cancer is the third most diagnosed malignancy seen at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, an awareness campaign was launched in March 2007, National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, to educate Central Floridians and hospital employees and to remind community physicians that colon cancer is largely preventable, treatable and beatable through regular screenings, a healthy lifestyle and expert clinical care. The campaign concluded with a two-day visit from Super Colon, an inflatable 20-foot long, 8-foot high replica of the human colon. As visitors toured the display, they got an up close look at healthy colon tissue, non-malignant diseases like Crohn’s and colitis, colon polyps and various stages of colon cancer. The display, on loan from the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation, travels nationwide to encourage the public to learn more about screenings, individual risk, and prevention and treatment.

Objectives: 1. Obtain media coverage about colon cancer and Super Colon on two local TV stations and in our main local newspaper, The Orlando Sentinel, and communicate the key message that colon cancer is preventable, treatable and curable. 2. Enroll at least 50 participants, ages 50 or older, per session in our educational series and provide attendees with information to enable them to develop healthier lifestyles. 3. To have at least 100 patients and M. D. Anderson – Orlando and Orlando Regional Healthcare (our parent company) employees learn more about colon cancer by visiting the Super Colon exhibit.

Implementation: Target audiences included seniors who are at the age when most diagnoses occur; organizations, such as Sisters Network and the African American Health Summit, targeting minorities with a higher incidence of the disease; Orlando Regional Healthcare employees, who work directly with patients, and community physicians. We used the following vehicles to disseminate information : 1) A news release and media advisory were sent to local print, radio and TV stations; 2) Events were posted on community calendars (print, TV, Web); 3) A direct mail piece featuring Blair Culpepper, a colon cancer survivor and prominent member of Orlando’s business community, along with information on upcoming classes, was sent to 50,000 households in our service area – Orange, Osceola & Seminole counties – and additional pieces were distributed among local physician offices; 4) Ads, complimenting the direct mail piece, were featured in the Southwest Orlando Bulletin, Orlando Magazine and First Monday, an Orlando Chamber of Commerce publication; 5) Blair’s story and colon cancer information was posted online, and all collateral referenced the Web site; 6)Posters of the ad were displayed in our center and outlying facilities; 7) Interested civic groups received colon cancer information and speakers’ bios; 8) Mailings were sent to local physicians encouraging conversations with patients about screenings; 9) Awareness articles and class information was featured in 55PLUS, a local seniors group newsletter mailed to 60,000 homes in the tri-county area and in our employee newsletter, In Touch, distributed to 12,000 employees; 10) Orlando Regional employees (12,000) received weekly e-mails throughout March.

Evaluation: 1) M. D. Anderson – Orlando received TV coverage on WKMG-Ch. 6 and Central Florida News 13. The Orlando Business Journal and The Orlando Sentinel ran three photos and cutlines prior to the exhibit opening. Also, the Sentinel’s Web team interviewed Dr. Omar Kayaleh, M. D. Anderson – Orlando’s GI Specialty Section team leader, and included the interview and several Super Colon exhibit photos online, which were also picked up by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Fourteen stories garnered more than 1.5 million impressions. 2) Over 150 people in our target demographic attended the colon cancer series and most classes were standing room only. Additional requests led to a presentation to over 100 residents of The Villages, a large senior retirement community, in Lady Lake, near Orlando, by Drs. Kayaleh and M. Asif Mouiddin, a gastroenterologist, with our sister facility, Orlando Regional Medical Center. Additionally, Denise Fusselman, RN/community outreach coordinator for the center, spoke to area groups including the Sisters Network (100), African American Health Summit (3000), Walgreens Pharmacy employees (100) and several area churches. 3) Nearly 600 people, patients and employees alike, visited the Super Colon exhibit over a two-day period. Health care workers, including colorectal surgeons, nurses and nutritionists were on hand to provide information and answer questions. Since April, our new patient referrals department has reported a 10 percent increase in appointments for colonoscopies. 4) Requests for collateral materials have been received from many local physician offices and our speakers’ bureau has received numerous requests from local community groups for educational presentations.

Budget: M. D. Anderson – Orlando’s Marketing/Media team allocated $10,000 for the awareness campaign. Costs were for the direct mail piece, posters, ads and educational collateral. Sanofi-Aventis sponsored the Super Colon display and Bristol Meyers Squibb, Genetech Pharmaceuticals and Roche Pharmaceuticals provided refreshments for the educational series.