New Jersey ranks fifth in the nation for cancer incidence — and lung and colorectal cancers are among the most common and deadly in our state.

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Director Steven Libutti says The ScreenNJ program focuses on improving screening, prevention and education for cancer across the state.

He says the idea is to improve access for patients to be screened for cancers and to improve education so people understand when screening is appropriate and how to get it.

Libutti lung and colon cancers are common in New Jersey. If we screen these cancers effectively in patients, we can reduce the mortality of those cancers.

ScreenNJ, which launched in July 2017, is a collaborative program between Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the state Department of Health. It has created 20 partnerships with insurance, pharmaceutical and biotech companies across the state to help improve the education around lung and colon cancer screenings as well as tobacco mitigation.

"The partnerships improve the navigation of patients to sites where they can be screened appropriately and attempting to close that loop from knowing somebody should be screened to making certain they've been screened, and any findings are acted on," Libutti said.

Libutti said many of these cancers are found at a later stage and screening rates are low, especially in Essex, Burlington, Camden and Ocean counties, which is why ScreenNJ was started.

Libutti says he's very excited about the progress ScreenNJ has made in the past year.

"We're just hoping that we can continue to expand our efforts to better help patients in New Jersey avoid colon and lung cancer."

To learn more about the ScreenNJ program, go to www.screennj.org.