UAMS Gets $2.5M Grant to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening in Arkansas

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The Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences received $2.5 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a five-year project to increase colorectal cancer screening in Arkansas.

Partnerships in Colorectal Cancer Screening in Arkansas is a project of the department’s Community Health and Education Division. Alysia Dubriske, director of community health and education at UAMS, is leading the program and managing the grant.

Arkansas is ranked 34th in the nation for the number of people per capita who are screened annually for colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society predicts 1,540 Arkansans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2020 and 610 will die from it. According to CDC guidelines, people over the age of 50 should be screened annually, and people with a family history of it should start being screened at a younger age.

“This grant allows us to address these disparities in Arkansas by working with both health care providers and the public,” Dubriske said in a news release. “We will educate providers on evidence-based approaches for increasing colorectal cancer screening and then partner with them to implement those interventions. This will be supported by a communication campaign directed at the public so they better understand the importance of screening.”

Approaches include automatic reminders for health care providers to touch base with patients who are overdue for screenings, increasing public awareness about screening though media and communication efforts, and improving the access Arkansans in rural areas have to prevention, early stage diagnosis and treatment.

The program will target primary care clinics, especially in counties with low screening rates and low average household incomes, and work directly with providers to teach them best practices and help them implement techniques in their clinics.

“Ultimately, our goal is to reduce the amount of late-stage colorectal cancer in Arkansas and the number of colorectal cancer deaths in Arkansas,” Dubriske said. “Colorectal cancer is a highly treatable disease, especially if caught early, and we know that screening saves lives. We’re looking forward to partnering with clinics to make a difference.”