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UTHealth awarded $3.8 million to increase colorectal cancer screening for most vulnerable Texans

Nearly all colorectal cancers are preventable and routine colorectal cancer screenings are recommended for everyone over the age of 50. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Nearly all colorectal cancers are preventable and routine colorectal cancer screenings are recommended for everyone over the age of 50. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

To accelerate colorectal cancer screening for the most vulnerable Texans, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Colorectal Cancer Control Program has awarded The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health a $3.8 million grant.

It is the first grant of its kind from the CDC to help implement a comprehensive colorectal cancer screening program targeting the most underserved Texans in the most at-risk age group, ages 50 to 75, said Maria E. Fernandez, PhD, the Lorne Bain Distinguished Professor in Public Health and Medicine and director of the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research at UTHealth School of Public Health.

In partnership with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the five-year grant will help primary care clinics in underserved areas across the state improve colorectal cancer screening processes among populations with low screening rates. The five-year grant supports efforts in primary care clinics in underserved areas across the state.

“This grant will provide an opportunity to improve colorectal cancer screening so we can hopefully prevent cancer deaths and decrease cancer-related health disparities,” Fernandez said. “This program is specifically designed to accelerate and improve the implementation of evidence-based interventions for colorectal cancer screening for patients of community health centers aged 50 to 75. The primary focus is to improve colorectal cancer screening across the state using innovative strategies to adopt and implement best practices.”

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among adults in the U.S., and is the second leading cause of cancer death in Texas. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly all colorectal cancers are preventable and routine colorectal cancer screenings are recommended for everyone over the age of 50 to help prevent cancer-related deaths. There are a variety of screening procedures, including blood and fecal tests.

“Getting screened is important in both preventing colorectal cancer and finding it early. When polyps are found and removed, colorectal cancer can be prevented. Even if cancer is detected, if found at an early stage a patient has a better chance of beating it,” she said.

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