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New way of expanding cancer screening for minority women
Date:10/24/2010

em. But as health reform moves forward, and a stronger emphasis is placed on preventive care, communities around the country will need to find ways to facilitate the screening process, as well as find ways to fund it, notes Dr. Shike.

The teams' study took place at the Breast Examination Center of Harlem (BECH) a community outreach program of Memorial Sloan-Kettering that offers free, high-quality care, including cervical and breast cancer screening to primarily African-American and Hispanic women. Women aged 50 years or older who had not undergone colon cancer screening in the past ten years were eligible to participate. (Eligibility was also based on patients not having serious illnesses such as heart or lung disease or uncontrolled diabetes.) Following the patients' mammography, eligible women met with bilingual staff to learn about the screening process and ascertain whether they were eligible to undergo colonoscopy. This process, Dr. Shike pointed out, can be effective and reduce costs because women can be referred, medically screened, and prepared without having to obtain a referral from another physician.

"We rode the coattails of an already successful, preexisting screening program model and showed that by introducing colon cancer screening at this time, we were able to facilitate the process and expand access," explained Dr. Shike. "This is important because many women coming to facilities like BECH have little or no health insurance, and many do not see a primary care physician regularly. We were able to remove the burden of having to obtain a referral, which in many cases leads to patients not getting the screening they need."

Of 2,616 eligible women, 611 patients initially gave their consent. Although fewer than 25 percent of those eligible joined the study, the researchers point out that the lack of involvement was not for lack of interest. "Only a small percentage cited a lack of interest for declining screening," noted
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Contact: Courtney DeNicola
denicolc@mskcc.org
212-639-3573
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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