WVU researchers improve screening rates for state’s second-deadliest cancer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In West Virginia, where colorectal cancer is the second-deadliest type of cancer, half of all colorectal cancers elude diagnosis until they have already grown beyond the colon. With Medicaid expansion, more West Virginians now have health insurance for cancer screening, yet many barriers to screening persist.
West Virginia University researchers are working to improve screening rates for the state, which has one of the highest incidences of colorectal cancer and one of the lowest screening rates in the nation.
“For patients who decline colonoscopy, the cost of the procedure is not always the issue. It is the non-procedure-related costs,” said Mary Ellen Conn, assistant director of WVU’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program.
Some patients may not be able to get time off from work to get screened. Others may lack transportation or childcare. And in West Virginia’s most rural counties, months-long wait lists can be a deterrent.
Conn and her colleague Stephenie Kennedy-Rea, director of the WVU Cancer Prevention and Control Program, lead a team that works with health care providers at 34 primary care clinics across West Virginia to implement research-proven interventions to increase their colorectal cancer screening rates.
This effort is part of the West Virginia Program to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening, known as WV PICCS. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the goal of the program is to increase colorectal cancer screening rates and create systems change for long-lasting impact. The program will receive a total of $2.65 million in CDC funding over its five-year run.