March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!

Colon cancer, the third most common cancer in the United States with more than 130,000 new patients diagnosed each year, is highly preventable with routine screenings that lead to early detection. But colon cancer is also a cancer that demonstrates racial disparities in survival rates. The Philadelphia region in particular has a disproportionately high number of residents suffering from cancers, many of which are preventable and treatable.

Important Philadelphia programs that Get Your Rear in Gear (GYRIG) Philadelphia, our region's premier fundraising event to fight colon cancer, fund are:

- The colon cancer research of medical oncologist Dr. Edith Mitchell, director of the recently established Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson's Center to Eliminate Racial Disparities and 2012 recipient of ASCO's Humanitarian Award.

- The Jefferson Division of Colorectal Surgery intends to further their work with granted funds to evaluate biopsies of patients who have completely responded to preoperative treatment (no tumor left) vs. those who do not have an effect from chemo/radiation. Using genetic technology (Nanostring) researchers and doctors hope to identify a pattern of genes that will allow care specifically for the individual rectal cancer patient.

- Additional funds in support of Dr. Edith Mitchell's work will be utilized to develop a greater understanding of the factors that lead to development of the disease to facilitate prevention strategies and to develop better treatment interventions. Additionally, she and her team plan to analyze data that will help elucidate factors that promote proliferation, response to therapy, resistance to standard chemotherapeutic agents, and development of new agents for treatment. Therefore, they will further study this disparate group of patients and compare results to standard data.

- Get Your Rear in Gear Philly also funds The American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Scholar-in-Training Awards to assure that young researchers have the opportunity to present their work before the international research community and participate fully in the most important and largest cancer research meeting in the world (AACR annual convention is in Philadelphia in April!). GYRIG Awards will be restricted to young investigators working in colorectal cancers, providing approximately 6-15 travel grants to researchers in colon cancer research, depending on researchers location).

- The community outreach work of Penn medical oncologists Dr. Carmen Guerra and Dr. Michael Kochman, at the Abramson Cancer Center's West Philadelphia Gastrointestinal Health Outreach and Access Program. This demographically targeted program offers navigation, transportation assistance and counseling for early colon cancer screening in an under served area of our city. (Dr. Carmen Guerra was recently named board president of the American Cancer Society)
The seventh annual GYRIG Philadelphia takes place Sunday, March 22, 2015, at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park with a 4-Mile Run, 2-Mile Remembrance Walk and Kids Fun Run. For times and details, see attached press release or click here.

GYRIG Philadelphia was founded and organized by Mount Laurel, NJ resident Maria Grasso (her day job is selling the Pennsylvania Convention Center to the large citywide conventions that support our hospitality economy), who lost her own father and grandfather to colon cancer. Inspired by a desire to fight the disease that claimed her loved ones, Grasso has grown the event from a few hundred participants to more than 4,000 at last years sixth year. This year is expected to grow even more. This annual event is part of awareness and fund-raising efforts during March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Survivors, patients and those lost to colorectal cancer are honored.

GYRIG Philadelphia has raised more than $1.5 million since 2009, all of which stays in the Greater Philadelphia region for research, patient care, education, screening and awareness efforts.
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