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Colorectal Cancer Alliance (Alliance) CEO Michael Sapienza today announced that Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross will provide $500,000 in support of the March Forth Philadelphia Prevention Project, which seeks to save lives by promoting increased colorectal cancer screening in the Philadelphia region.

Sapienza made the announcement with Independence Blue Cross CEO Dan Hilferty at Independence’s Philadelphia headquarters, during a breakfast presentation to local business, healthcare, and community leaders about the prevention project.

Colorectal cancer claims more than 50,000 lives each year in the United States, yet it is highly preventable. Screening and early detection can save lives. The colorectal cancer screening rate in some Philadelphia communities, however, is nearly 25 percent lower than the national average of 67 percent. Philadelphia has a lower screening rate than other cities with contributing factors such as poverty and access to care.

“A transformational gift of this magnitude has the ability to save lives and prevent needless suffering from colorectal cancer in this region,” Sapienza said. “With world-class healthcare institutions and a commitment from companies like Independence Blue Cross, Philadelphia will serve as a nationwide model for how to significantly increase screening and change the dynamics of colorectal cancer in this community.”

The March Forth project is a national effort to attack colorectal cancer by driving up screening rates, starting in Philadelphia. Working with partners, families, and advocates across the country, the initiative intends to close the screening gap and save 100,000 lives in the next 10 years.

The grant will assist in funding the prevention project’s four-pronged strategy to increase screening rates, which includes supporting patients and families, conducting outreach to vulnerable communities, raising awareness, and educating and collaborating with health systems."

“It is unacceptable that in some neighborhoods in our city, more than half of people who should be screened for colon cancer may not be getting this lifesaving intervention, and we are pleased to help raise awareness through the Colorectal Cancer Alliance,” said Daniel J. Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross. “Tackling this problem in our community is an expression of Independence’s mission to enhance the health and well-being of the communities we serve.”

The grant announcement occurs during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. With its “Don’t Assume”public awareness campaign, the Alliance is challenging the assumptions and myths surrounding colorectal cancer.

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