Increasingly public health officials are counting on the medical teams at community health centers to help Nevada reach key goals in reducing the burden of cancer in the state. One of those goals is the “80 percent by 2018” goal set by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, to have 80 percent of eligible adults up-to-date with their colon cancer screening by 2018. Nevada’s screening rate sat at just over 58 percent as of the most recent national survey in 2013.
“Community health clinics play a key role when it comes to increasing colon cancer screening rates within the state,” said Cari Herington, executive director of Nevada Cancer Coalition. “A recent pilot project we launched at Community Health Alliance aimed at improving screening rates allowed that clinic to see immediate and substantial gains in the number of patients up-to-date with screening. We’re now working with more clinics in the area to duplicate the program, including Northern Nevada Hopes and Nevada Health Centers. It’s a win for us, the clinics, and most importantly the patients.”
Community health centers provide high-quality primary health care to those with low income, the uninsured, and other vulnerable populations. They are able to reach a portion of the population that has traditionally had less access to healthcare, making them especially valuable in Nevada’s rural communities and lower socio-economic urban neighborhoods.
“Colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the United States, with 140,000 Americans diagnosed each year,” said Dr. Jason Crawford, co-medical director at Reno’s Community Health Alliance clinic. “We’re proud to be able to offer the patients served in our clinic routine recommendations for colon cancer screening and access to affordable and effective screening tests. In increasing the number of our patients up to date with screening we hope to keep many of those patients from becoming another cancer statistic.”
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men and women in Nevada and nationwide, but with proper prevention, screening and early detection, the risk of dying from colon cancer can be reduced by 70 – 90 percent. Colon cancer screening is recommended for average risk adults aged 50 to 75, or starting at 45 for African Americans.
Most community health clinics in Nevada offer two options for colon cancer screening. Referral to a gastroenterologist for colonoscopy, required every ten years, is one option. The other is an at-home FIT test, a low-cost lab test that should be performed annually.
Information screening test options, along with a list of low-cost community health clinics and other resources for low-income and uninsured individuals, is available online at www.ChallengeNV.com.