Mr. Kazeem Adefemi
Supervisor: Dr. Peizhong Peter Wong
Mr. Adefemi was awarded a 202 ARC-NL Graduate Fellowship for his project entitled,
Do Age and Co-morbidity Status Affect Colorectal Cancer Screening Among Elderly NL Population?
ARC-NL: What piqued your interest in this area of research?
I have worked for almost 15 years as a frontline worker and for a big chunk of that time I was a community health worker and project officer for community health projects. I witnessed, firsthand, the impact of cancer and cancer-related death and disability. I decided to research colorectal cancer because it provides the opportunity to explore two research areas that are of interest to me: aging and cancer. With my experience working in the public health space, I am always looking for avenues to contribute towards the health and wellbeing of a significant proportion of the population more effectively. Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Newfoundland, Canada and across the world, and a disease that is more common as people grow older. So, I believe that by contributing research evidence towards better prevention of this cancer, I can help to reduce the impact of cancer in our society, while also contributing towards healthy aging.
ARC-NL: Can you please provide a brief synopsis of your specific project?
Cancer of the large intestine (colon) and rectum, known collectively as Colorectal Cancer (CRC) has become a major cause of disability and death in Canada. The Canadian Cancer Society estimated that 9,700 people died from CRC, and another 26,900 were diagnosed of the cancer in 2020. Today, CRC has become the third most common cancer among Canadians, the second cause of death from cancer in men and third among women. Current evidence shows higher rate of cancer in NL compared to the rest of the country. CRC can be more successfully treated if diagnosed early. Because of this, screening to detect CRC early has become the main public health strategy to minimise the effects of CRC. Since over 90% of CRC cases occur in people above 50 years old, current CRC screening guidelines recommend regular screening for people aged 50-74 years.
As we grow older, we are exposed to widely different socioeconomic factors and the presence of multiple chronic conditions. My research is important because it intends to investigate if aging, people’s health, social, economic, and environmental conditions affect their willingness to undergo CRC screening, and their chances of experiencing serious adverse effects or benefit from CRC screening. The evidence from this research can help health administrators and policy makers to better design CRC screening guidelines and better cancer interventions to reduce the cases of serious side effects and improve the benefits of CRC screening for individuals and the whole population.
ARC-NL: How did getting the support of the ARC-NL Graduate Fellowship assist you with your project?
I am passionate about this research, and the generous support from ARC-NL has enabled me to focus on my studies and my research without distractions. Thanks to the generous and timely support from ARC-NL, my research can continue to explore and promote better understanding of the various factors that affect older adult’s uptake of cancer screening and how to better design screening strategies to improve benefits and reduce the chances of adverse effect. The ARC-NL award has been important to me, not only for the financial support, but also because it strengthened my conviction to pursue research towards healthy aging.
ARC-NL: How do you feel your research will benefit the aging population of Newfoundland and Labrador? Canada?
As mentioned above, I believe that evidence from my research would contribute towards better understanding of the various factors that affect the uptake of cancer screening among older adults, as well as the various factors that may contribute to the outcomes of the screening. This evidence might help health system decision makers to better design CRC screening guidelines and better cancer prevention strategies to reduce the cases of serious side effects and improve the benefits of CRC screening for individuals and the whole population. As a result, the older population of NL and the country can receive colorectal cancer screening that is safer and more targeted towards their personal health and social situation. Also, as people become aware that screening for CRC is safer and more effective, the population adherence to screening and thus, the number of colorectal cancer prevented or diagnosed early is likely to improve and death or disability from colorectal cancer, decrease.
ARC-NL: Is there any past experience you feel is pertinent to your success today?
I have experience conducting biomedical research, especially during my studies towards a Masters in Public Health, and from my work experience as a community health worker, and research assistant. I work as a graduate research assistant with the NL Centre for Applied Health Research (NLCAHR) and as a member of the Covid-19 research team producing biweekly Covid-19 e-bulletin for health system decision makers in the province since April 2020. I have participated in critical analysis of research evidence, research evidence synthesis and other research product for health system decision makers in the province.
My supervisor, Dr. Wang, has conducted extensive primary research on colorectal cancer, which has been greatly helpful in growing my understanding and skills in cancer research. My co-supervisor, Dr. Knight has over 20 years of experience in health analytics and population health research involving linkage and analysis of health administrative, clinical and survey data in university and government settings, including development of a database for the study of cervical cancer. With the support and guidance of my supervisors and their expertise and experience to draw upon, I believe I am well equipped to succeed in my chosen research project.