Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep encourages people to get screened for colon cancer in new broadcast public service announcements (PSAs) that launch in March, in conjunction with National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
The PSAs, which will premiere today on Katie!, are the latest collaboration between the Entertainment Industry Foundation's National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (EIF’s NCCRA), co-founded by Katie Couric, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the CDC’s Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign. This initiative is a multi-year effort to educate Americans about the importance of regular colorectal cancer screening for men and women age 50 and over.
Streep is one of the world’s most renowned actors, having won three Academy Awards as well as multiple Golden Globe, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and Screen Actors Guild awards, in addition to Primetime Emmys and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. She is the third Oscar-winning actor to appear in the Screen for Life campaign, along with Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton.
Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, taking the lives of more than 50,000 Americans every year. Yet the disease is highly preventable through screening. Screening can detect pre-cancerous growths called polyps that can be removed before they develop into colorectal cancer. Screening can also detect colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most effective.
Streep explains these benefits of screening in the PSA, titled Control, adding that, “For me, screening was simple and quick. It was no big deal, except for the huge sense of relief you feel afterwards.”
The colorectal cancer death rate has declined steadily for several years. According to the CDC, half of this decrease can be attributed to more people getting screened. Despite that progress, one third of U.S. adults age 50 and over are still not up to date with recommended screening.
The CDC considers Screen for Life one of the most effective campaigns it has undertaken to encourage screening.
Streep said she was motivated to get screened after seeing Katie Couric’s efforts on TV to educate the public about screening’s life-saving value, and encouraged her family members to do the same. “I made my husband get screened, I made my brothers get screened…I made everyone I love get screened,” she said. “It’s important to get the word out; people should know how easy it is to go through the procedure that can detect polyps and early cancer.”
“Time and again, we’ve seen that celebrities can bring much-needed attention to the need for colorectal cancer screening, as they have done so successfully with this campaign. ‘Icon’ is overused, but Meryl Streep truly is an American — and worldwide — icon. She is an ideal ambassador to convey that screening saves lives, and we are profoundly grateful for her support,” said NCCRA co-founder Katie Couric.
EIF’s NCCRA has collaborated on CDC’s Screen for Life campaign since 2004, producing broadcast and print PSAs featuring award-winning actors Morgan Freeman, Diane Keaton, Jimmy Smits, and Terrence Howard, as well as print PSAs and out-of-home dioramas featuring EIF’s NCCRA co-founder Katie Couric.
For more information or to view the PSA, visit CDC’s Screen for Life Web site at www.cdc.gov/screenforlife or the EIF Web site at www.eifoundation.org. For more information about colorectal cancer screening and prevention, contact CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP), which funds 25 states and 4 tribes to help increase colorectal cancer screening rates. Call 1-800-CDC-INFO, or click here.