May 6, 2024

Patient Advocacy Mentorship: FUTEJE in Mexico

Learn about GCCA's Patient Advocacy Mentorship with FUTEJE.

As of 2022, colorectal cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in Mexico, and the third most common cancer. The number of new cases and the number of deaths due to colorectal cancer are predicted to double by 2050, so patient advocacy in Mexico is critical to reduce the burden of this disease.

In March, GCCA president, Nicole Sheahan, and Zorana Maravic, CEO of GCCA member organization Digestive Cancers Europe, traveled to Mexico to meet with FUTEJE. FUTEJE is Mexico’s only patient advocacy organization focused on the comprehensive support of patients with colorectal and gastric cancer from health care and treatment to implementation of prevention and timely detection programs. FUTEJE is participating in the GCCA Patient Advocacy Mentorship in which GCCA leaders and leaders from experienced GCCA members provide tailored assessments, guided strategic planning, financial support, and advice to advocates and advocacy organizations.  

Francisco Freyría, Zorana Maravic, Nicole Sheahan, and Ma. Teresa Zepeda

Together with Francisco Freyría, General Director of FUTEJE, and Ma. Teresa Zepeda, FUTEJE’s President, Sheahan and Maravic reviewed the landscape of colorectal cancer care in Mexico with noted oncologist Dr. Manuel Acuña Tovar.  

They also met with Dr. Oscar Arrieta, the General Director of Mexico’s National Cancer Institute, Instituto Nacional de Cancerología (INCan), and his team to see how the screening program is being carried out. They discussed the importance of updating the Policy Scorecards over time to reflect progress being made in colorectal cancer policy. A tour of the endoscopy center at INCan rounded out the visit.  

Dr. Angélica Hernádez, Nicole Sheahan, Dr. Oscar Arrieta, Zorana Maravic, Francisco Freyría, Ma. Teresa Zepeda, and Dr. Javier Melchor at the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología (INCan)

The group then met with Dr. David Huitzil and his team at the National Institute of Health Sciences and Nutrition, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán (INCMNSZ) to learn about the investigational work and protocols that they have been doing for CRC, and how their screening program is being carried out.

Back: Ma. Teresa Zepeda, Nicole Sheahan, Zorana Maravic, Dr. Guido Grajales, Dr. Salvador Escorza, and Francisco Freyría. Front: Dr. Marco Antonio Jiménez, Dr. Vanessa Rosas, Dr. Mónica Meneses, Dr. Francisco Valdovinos, and Dr. David Huitzil at Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán (INCMNSZ).


Sheahan, Maravic, and Francisco Freyría participated in the “Forum on Access to Prevention, Diagnosis and Timely Treatment of Colorectal Cancer in Mexico”, held before the senate in Mexico City. This meeting was in partnership with Senator Lilia Margarita Valdez Martínez.

Lic. Juan Manuel Hernández, T.S Ivonne Hernández, Francisco Freyría, Nicole Sheahan, Ma. Teresa Zepeda, Margarita Rosario, T.S Mariana Pérez in the Senate chamber

“I was thrilled to be able to learn about the situation in Mexico, to learn about the enthusiasm from individuals and I am hopeful for all stakeholders aligning to find long term solutions and offering Mexican citizens CRC screening and optimal treatment and care in the years to come.” said Zorana Maravic. “I was also happy to share all our experience and materials with our colleagues in order to help them support their population better. This was just the first visit and I look forward to learning about the progress.”

Nicole Sheahan, Dr. Manuel Acuña Tovar, Zorana Maravic at the Senate

FUTEJE's Francisco Freyría added, "It was a pleasure to meet Nicole and Zorana in person and to understand more in depth the work related to CRC that they develop in other countries and continents, there is still much to learn and we are flattered that some actions and programs that we are developing in Mexico serve as a model for other countries. Likewise, to be able to show them the capacity and scope that we have from FUTEJE to undertake great things. I am sure that with their support, mentoring and collaboration we will do many things in the near future."

Learn more about the GCCA mentorship program.