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Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis and is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. First-degree blood relatives (parents, siblings and children) of those who have had colorectal cancer are two to three times more likely to develop the disease. However, screening rates for that group are low, possibly because many are unaware of the increased risk based on their family history.

Headshot of Dr. Mark Friedman

Dr. Mark Friedman, Gastrointestinal Oncology Program

“Colorectal cancer is a preventable disease,” said Dr. Mark Friedman, a gastroenterologist in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program. “If a patient is screened appropriately, early detection and treatment drastically improve outcomes. Colon cancer can affect all genders and races, and people should talk to their health care providers about when they should start screening.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening starting at 45. However, for those with a family history of the disease, screening may need to begin earlier.

Moffitt is hoping to help increase awareness of this by developing educational materials to inform first-degree blood relatives about the importance of colorectal cancer screening.

Headshot of Dr. Shannon Christy

Dr. Shannon Christy, Health Outcomes & Behavior Department

Dr. Shannon Christy, a researcher in Moffitt’s Health Outcomes & Behavior Department, is recruiting colorectal cancer survivors and their first-degree relatives to participate in a study to learn more about what types of education would be the most impactful among this group and the best methods to deliver them.

“We believe survivors are an untapped resource to help promote colorectal cancer screening to their first-degree relatives. We have an opportunity to develop engaging, personalized messages that could potentially serve as a powerful catalyst for relatives to complete screening,” said Christy.


Participants who are colorectal cancer survivors must:

  • Be willing to provide contact information for at least one parent, sibling or child ages 40-75 (related by blood)
  • Be 18 or older
  • Have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the past three months to five years
  • Be able to read, write, speak and understand English
  • Complete an individual telephone interview
  • Be willing to work with the team to create personalized messages for one first-degree relative
  • Have an eligible first-degree relative enrolled in the study

Participants who are first-degree relatives must:

  • Be ages 40 to 75
  • Have no personal history of colorectal cancer or current colorectal cancer symptoms
  • Not be up to date with colorectal cancer screening
  • Be able to read, write, speak and understand English
  • Be willing and able to receive personalized education messages via mail
  • Complete two brief individual telephone interviews
  • Have an eligible, blood-related parent, sibling or child who is a colorectal cancer survivor enrolled in the study

For the current phase of the study, researchers will conduct individual interviews with colorectal cancer survivors and one of their first-degree relatives. The goal of this project is to inform ways to provide education about colorectal cancer screening to first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer survivors.

Compensation may be available for study participants. For more information on this study, please email or call 813-745-8890.