The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) awarded $1.499 million to increase access to affordable colonoscopies in over 20 Texas counties.
The grant was presented to David McClellan, clinical assistant professor, and Jane Bolin, professor in the School of Public Health, who have been working together since 2010, with the funding going to help the already established program, called Cancer Screening, Training, Education and Prevention (C-STEP).
“C-STEP was established back in 2011-2012 with our first CPRIT grant and we have since expanded from colorectal cancer screenings to include breast and cervical cancer screenings,” Bolin said. “We also provide free HPV vaccines and train community health workers so they can provide culturally relevant, bilingual cancer prevention education.”
Bolin stated in a report to a CPRIT oversight meeting that when C-STEP started in 2011, the program sought to help out in 17 counties with colonoscopy screenings and help prevention measure for colorectal cancer. Out of the 17 counties, nine had colorectal cancer mortality rates that were higher than the Texas state average.
“He [McClellan] contacted me to assist with writing a grant that would allow the A&M Family Medicine Residency program to conduct colorectal cancer screenings by providing free colonoscopies through the residency training program working with the A&M School of Public Health,” Bolin said. “So it has been a ‘win-win’ for everyone because the CPRIT pays for the free screenings — while providing important training to Family Medicine Residents and Public Health majors.”
According to the report given by Bolin, 1,992 total colonoscopy screenings were provided to 1,914 people with 1,500 CPRIT-funded procedures over a period from 2011 to 2017. Eighteen people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 34 percent saw some form of an abnormal pathology.
According to the grant report from CPRIT, the goal of McClellan and Bolin is to continue to expand on what C-STEP has done since 2011 and bring help to more counties around Texas.
“The overall goal of this proposed project is to provide CRC prevention education, screenings and patient navigation across the continuum of care, to residents of 21 Texas counties, including 15 rural,” the statement said. “Specific goals include improving access to culturally appropriate CRC [colorectal cancer] prevention education and navigation, by at least 54,505 people/professionals.”
Bolin said that the free screenings would not have been possible without the CPRIT grants and through the new ones expansion of C-STEP can continue to help people in need and teach instructors that have not received proper training for the services offered.
“We have gradually expanded to more and more counties in Texas as the Family Medicine Residency and the School of Public Health have expanded our training and outreach,” Bolin said. “We could not have provided free screenings for the uninsured without the generosity of CPRIT.”