Bringing Colorectal Screening to More Hispanic Men

May 20, 2015

University Health System awarded $1.5 million CPRIT grant to provide more colonoscopies to an underserved group

University Health System has been awarded a $1,499,775 grant by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas to expand its evidence-based colorectal cancer prevention screening program aimed at Hispanic males.

The program uses male, Spanish-speaking patient navigators to explain the benefits of colorectal screenings to Hispanic men, and to make it easier for them to schedule and undergo colonoscopies.

Few Hispanic men get recommended the colon cancer screening tests, even though colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in that population. Hispanics are also more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease, when it’s harder to treat.

Current recommendations call for everyone beginning at age 50 to receive regular screening for colon cancer.

“An important part of this program is flexible scheduling and providing transportation to and from the colonoscopy,” said Dr. Roberto Villarreal, senior vice president of research and information management at University Health System, and lead investigator of the program. “Many of these men work as carpenters or plumbers, and are the only family member to drive. It’s hard for them to take a day off, and it’s hard to have someone drive them to the appointment.”

A study of the program, published last year in the Journal of Cancer Education, found the program not only convinced most men to get a colonoscopy, but it saved money in the long run — about $1,148 per patient. The study looked at 370 men who had colonoscopies as part of a pilot project also funded by a CPRIT grant. Of those 134 had polyps that were removed and tested. Five were diagnosed with colon cancer and referred to treatment.

Since 2010, University Health System has been awarded $6.2 million from CPRIT for cancer prevention and screening in addition to this latest grant.