ScreenNJ is a statewide program whose focus is to implement and expand the reach of evidence-based cancer prevention and screening services, directly address barriers that prevent people from receiving timely cancer screenings, and reduce the cancer burden experienced by New Jerseyans.
In partnership with the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Health, and healthcare and community organizations across New Jersey, ScreenNJ aims to:
- increase access to timely cancer screening,
- reduce cancer mortality rates,
- reduce disparities in cancer screening access, and
- educate New Jersey residents about the importance of cancer screening, early detection, and prevention
The Impact of COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer screening rates across NJ and the nation plummeted, with screenings for breast, colon, lung, prostate, and cervical cancer decreasing by 85 percent, 75 percent, 56 percent, 74 percent, and 94 percent, respectively during the initial months of the crisis and only partially recovering since then. These delayed or missed screenings result in cancer being diagnosed at later stages, putting more than 10,000 more people at risk of death from cancer annually over the next decade. ScreenNJ assists partners to implement COVID-19 responses that encourage patients to reschedule cancelled screenings, screen previously unscreened patients, and provide patient navigators who guide patients through the additional screening barriers that COVID-19 has created.
Addressing Multiple Cancers
ScreenNJ is an initiative originally focused on colorectal cancer and lung cancer, which are among the most prevalent cancers in the state. More recently, ScreenNJ has expanded its efforts to also address breast cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, cancers related to family and genetic risk factors, and HPV (human papillomavirus)-related cancers such as cervical cancer. This includes expanding free access to cancer screening patient navigators who help individuals get screened and bringing cancer screening services directly to communities experiencing access issues through the ScreenNJ Mobile Health Van.
ScreenNJ has since successfully established partnerships with clinical and community-based organizations throughout the state, including safety net settings, such as charity care hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), primary care practices, NJ Cancer Education and Early Detection (NJCEED) agencies, NJ Quit Centers, and other community partners to screen more patients for cancer and improve access to tobacco cessation, a critical cancer prevention tool.
Through these partnerships, ScreenNJ aims to:
- increase cancer screening rates to help prevent cancer and detect cancer at earlier, more treatable stages,
- connect residents with smoking cessation and help quitting smoking to reduce their cancer risk,
- reduce the number of New Jerseyans dying from cancer,
- address and reduce disparities in smoking, screening, and mortality rates in cancer (including disparities created or worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic), and
- increase awareness for New Jersey residents and healthcare providers about the importance of cancer screening, early detection, and prevention
New Jersey's cancer burden is extremely high; our state ranks fifth in the nation for age-adjusted cancer incidence rates. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. and New Jersey; nearly 6,000 residents are killed by preventable cancers each year. For all the cancers that the ScreenNJ program addresses, screening can detect cancers at an early stage when treatments are far more effective. Prevention and timely screening can dramatically reduce the number of deaths caused by these preventable and treatable cancers.