“Videos and Virtual Reality: NACDD Works with CDC and Partners to Develop Innovative Tools for Communicating Cancer Prevention and Control Information”

As reported by CDC, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. One out of every in four deaths in the US is attributed to cancer. Breast cancer was the primary form of cancer diagnosed among all women in 2015 at a rate of 124.8 per 100,000 cases, and breast cancer was the second most common form among all cancer deaths at a rate of 20.3 per 100,000 (preceded by lung and bronchus cancer). In this same year, cancers of the colon and rectum were the fourth leading cancer diagnosis at a rate of 38 per 100,000 people and the fourth most common cancer death among males and females at a rate of 14 per 100,000 people. 

Colorectal cancer is the only preventable form of cancer, yet only 67% of adults ages 50 to 75 are up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening (CDC DCPC, 2018). Breastcancer.org reports approximately 10-20% of all diagnosed breast cancer cases are triple-negative. Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is a condition in which the breast cancer cells test negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and HER2 in the pathology report. In such cases, the patient’s cancer does not respond to common hormonal therapy or medicines targeting the HER2 receptors as no such receptors exist. 

The NACDD Innovative Communication in Cancer Prevention and Control project, funded by the CDC Division for Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC) and financed through the CDC Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, served to create innovative ways to communicate complex cancer prevention and treatment information to individuals who need to make a decision about their healthcare. According to CDC DCPC, if individuals understood the advantages and disadvantages of treatment or screening options, they would be better informed when making key decisions about their healthcare leading to best possible health outcomes at the individual and population level.

The project served to accomplish two goals: develop innovative communication encouraging age-eligible men and women to complete screening for colorectal cancer and to identify an innovative way to communicate treatment information to women diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. 

Working with Lisa C. Richardson, MD, MPH, Director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and representatives from the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute in Atlanta, Ga., the project team completed the following:

– Literature review of communication practices completed by Westat, Inc.

– Working with Kognito, a virtual reality (VR) simulation company, the team created a new VR simulation, “Talk to Someone: Triple Negative Breast Cancer.” The simulation features Linda, a virtual triple negative breast cancer survivor, who is programmed to navigate users through a series of questions and responses addressing TNBC diagnosis and treatment. The simulation is powered by Kognito’s proprietary simulation platform and methodology. The project team received valuable insight from NHCI and many volunteer contributors, including Dr. Jeff Giguere, Director and Senior Medical Oncologist, Greenville Hospital System Cancer Institute Research, in Greenville, SC.

– Working with CBS Health Solutions and Health Media Network, NACDD created four public service announcements featuring former Good Morning America host and triple negative breast cancer survivor Joan Lunden. Two PSAs urged age-eligible adults to complete appropriate screening for colorectal cancer and two PSAs urging women diagnosed with TNBC to remain engaged in their treatment process and follow appropriate treatment. 

The colorectal cancer screening and triple negative breast cancer public service announcement videos and TNBC breast cancer virtual reality simulation can be accessed online on the CDC’s website. The “Talk to Someone” virtual reality simulation is also available in the form of a mobile application. The mobile “Talk to Someone” app can be downloaded using Android and Apple IOS devices.