Roy J. Duhé, Ph.D., is Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Professor of Radiation Oncology and Associate Director for Cancer Education at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He also leads the statewide 70×2020 Colorectal Cancer Screening Initiative to ensure that at least 70% of Mississippians are up-to-date with recommended colorectal cancer screening by the year 2020. Among the states, Mississippi has the highest colorectal cancer death rate (American Cancer Society Facts & Figures).
Dr. Duhé was a first-time attendee to the Dialogue conference in 2015. We asked him about his conference experience and the multi-state coalition he helped to create resulting from connections he formed at the Dialogue.
Networking is one of the valued components of the Dialogue conference. How was it productive for you?
Through a conversation with South Carolina participants at the 2015 Dialogue, several other state representatives and I formed The Southeastern Colorectal Cancer Coalition to address our common challenges in colorectal cancer prevention and control. This Coalition now represents twelve member states, and has planned its first Symposium for April 20-22, 2016 in Atlanta. Without meeting these colleagues at the Dialogue, neither the Coalition nor the upcoming Symposium would have come into existence.
Have you implemented changes in your workplace or community as a result of the 2015 Dialogue?
Yes, I have begun a series of community engagement meetings in three key counties in the Mississippi delta where screening rates are very low and incidence and mortality rates are very high. The American Cancer Society estimates that, in 2016, 1,530 Mississippians will be newly diagnosed with colon cancer and 630 will die of it.
Since the 2015 Dialogue, have you encountered barriers to implementing new awareness or screening strategies?
Yes, funding for screening of indigent Mississippians remains the principle barrier in my state. This barrier must be addressed as statistics show many Mississippians are diagnosed with colorectal cancer when it has advanced to a later stage. At that point, it is harder to treat and more people die of it. Since the 2015 Dialogue we received Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award funding to engage residents in Greenville, Greenwood and Cleveland, MS to encourage more people to have colorectal cancer screening. My colleagues and I continue to pursue multiple strategies to increase screening rates in Mississippi’s rural, African-American and impoverished communities where many barriers exist.
How was your overall experience as a first year Dialogue for Action attendee?
It was an excellent networking opportunity and a productive use of my time. I highly recommend it to those who have never attended a Dialogue for Action.