WVU to continue to increase colorectal cancer screenings and early detection with help of $3.62 million CDC grant

Using a $3.62 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the West Virginia University Cancer Institute will continue working with clinics across the state to increase colorectal cancer screenings.

The five-year grant is a continuation of an existing WVU Cancer Institute, Cancer Prevention and Control grant which supports the West Virginia Program to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening (WVPICCS). This program focuses on early detection of the disease, which is one of the deadliest types of cancer in West Virginia.

WVU Cancer Prevention and Control staff partner with primary care clinics to increase screening rates. Over the last five years, WVU partnered with 44 clinics and increased their average screening rates by 45% from baseline to the completion of their maintenance year. The project trained more than 600 healthcare providers and provided over 700 hours of technical assistance.

“As a result of the grant, our growing partnerships, and educational outreach, our state has achieved a nearly 70% screening rate, according to Stephenie Kennedy, Ed.D., director of Cancer Prevention and Control at the WVU Cancer Center and principal investigator. The national goal is 80%.

“When it comes to colorectal cancer screening, there are racial and socioeconomic disparities that must be addressed,” Kennedy said. “This public health program will allow us to work toward that 80% screening goal while addressing healthy equity issues.”

Colorectal cancer is preventable. With early screening, it is possible to detect precancerous lesions and prevent cancer before it starts, thus decreasing the human and socioeconomic burden of cancer.

“Our work with primary care clinics to help them successfully increase colorectal cancer screening rates demonstrates we can change the statistics and impact the lives of West Virginians,” Mary Ellen Conn, assistant director of WVU Cancer Prevention and Control, said. “We are excited to continue that work and new partnerships for collaboration.”

In addition to working directly with participating providers to increase West Virginia’s colorectal cancer screening rate, the program also includes targeted public education and outreach in the form of small media interventions with community partners and the convening of a statewide Colorectal Roundtable meeting each year, designed to bring together advocates, healthcare providers, payers, and the public health sector.

Program collaborators include the American Cancer Society, Mountains of Hope Cancer Coalition, the WVU School of Medicine, and the WVU School of Public Health Office of Health Services Research.

For more information on the WVU School of Medicine, visit medicine.hsc.wvu.edu. For more information on the WVU Cancer Institute, visit wvucancer.org.

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