New Jersey Health Care Providers, Community Members, and Researchers Come together to Address Disparities and Improve Screening Opportunities for Colorectal and Lung Cancers

Challenges, data, education and research discussed at all-day conference

May 24, 2018 – Health care providers, community members, and researchers from across the state came together this week at the ‘Conference for Strategic Change’ event, hosted by the New Jersey Primary Care Association and sponsored by ScreenNJ to address screening among two of the most common cancers – colorectal and lung. At the Conference, participants discussed comprehensive strategies to increase screening rates as well as promising practices. Data gathered at the conference will be developed into recommendations for the ScreenNJ program led by Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) and funded in part by the New Jersey Department of Health. The New Jersey Primary Care Association moderated a panel during the conference on how Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are transforming colorectal and lung screening rates in the communities they serve. In addition, several partnering organizations from across the state contributed their expertise to the event.

“New Jersey is ranked fifth in the U.S. for cancer incidence and lung and colorectal cancers are among the most common and deadly in our state. With that, it is important for us to get the word out that effective screening programs are available,” notes Rutgers Cancer Institute Director Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS. “Patients with these types of cancers have better outcomes if detected early through proven screening methods. Unfortunately, many of these cancers are found at a later stage and screening rates are low, especially in several New Jersey counties, which is why we helped initiate ScreenNJ with the state Department of Health. I’m pleased to say that our inaugural year has been spent developing important partnerships, as well as identifying strategic research needs to help reduce cancer disparities and save lives,” added Dr. Libutti who is also the senior vice president of oncology services at RWJBarnabas Health.

Education and training on tobacco mitigation, and screening for lung and colorectal cancers geared toward clinicians across the state also has been a focus of ScreenNJ – along with the development of clinical decision support tools and practice strategies. In addition, many of our community based primary care provider partners have been supported by ScreenNJ to enhance their cancer screening and patient navigation programs specifically designed to reach diverse and underserved populations. FQHCs conduct colorectal cancer screening and assist patients with lung cancer screening referrals.

Through its partner organizations across the state, ScreenNJ is committed to reducing cancer incidence and mortality through an effective cancer prevention and screening program. To learn more about ScreenNJ visit

“In New Jersey, Federally Qualified Health Centers are leading the effort to screen for colorectal cancer among our patients. What we are doing is making an impact because colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States among men and women combined. In New Jersey, screening is above the national average compared to FQHCs across the country. We have two Health Centers, Zufall Health Center and North Hudson Community Action Corporation, who have paved the way with high screening rates and shared best practices at the Conference,” said NJPCA President and CEO Jillian Hudspeth.

Primary care physicians, including those who work in FQHCs, play an important role in cancer detection. While often the first to detect health abnormalities that may later be confirmed as cancer, they play an equally important role in the prevention of cancer. FQHCs provide prevention services as well as management of acute and chronic medical conditions.

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Rutgers Cancer Institute, along with its partner RWJBarnabas Health, offers the most advanced cancer treatment options including clinical trials and novel therapeutics such as precision medicine and immunotherapy – many of which are not available at other facilities across the state. Patients have access to these cutting-edge therapies throughout the state at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark, as well as at RWJBarnabas Health.

Along with world-class treatment, which is often fueled by on-site research conducted in Rutgers Cancer Institute laboratories, patients and their families also can seek cancer preventative services and education resources throughout the Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJBarnabas Health footprint statewide. Follow us on Facebook at

About the New Jersey Primary Care Association
The New Jersey Primary Care Association (NJPCA) is an advocate for community health centers as well as a provider of comprehensive education, training, and technical assistance to health centers in New Jersey. NJPCA currently has 24 health centers, one of which is a look-alike and 134 satellite sites providing healthcare services to over 500,000 people in New Jersey. For more information about NJPCA, please visit

Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are in every state across the nation. FQHCs are authorized under Section 330(A) of the Public Health Services Act to provide healthcare to the medically underserved. Many health centers and their sites are specially designated to serve the needs of special populations including homeless populations, public housing residents, migrant and seasonal farm workers, veterans and school-aged children. For more information about the HRSA Health Center Program, please visit

For journalists – contact:

Michele Fisher, Media Relations Specialist

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey


Toni Granato, Communications Coordinator

New Jersey Primary Care Association

609-689-9930 ex. 19

For Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey patient appointments/inquiries – contact:

To find Federally Qualified Health Center services in your area, contact:

Pictured in the first photo from left to right is “Word on the Street: Public Health” panelists Flordeliz Panem, MD, Chief Medical Officer of North Hudson Community Action Corporation; Rina Ramirez Alexander, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Zufall Health Center; and Andy Berman, MD, Division Director for the combined Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine/Allergy of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Pictured in the second photo is participants at the Conference for Change.

Pictured in the third photo is Mary E. O’Dowd, MPH, Executive Director of Health Systems and Population Health Integration, along with the panelists of “Meeting the Challenge: Statewide Panel Discusses CRC and Lung Cancer Rates.” Pictured from left to right at the table are Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey experts: Antionette “Nan” Stroup, PhD, Director of Cancer Epidemiology Services New Jersey State Cancer Registry; Jennifer Tsui, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor Rutgers School of Public Health; and Michael Steinberg, MD, MPH, Professor and Chief in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Vice-Chair for Research, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

New Jersey Health Care Providers, Community Members, and Researchers Come together to Address…