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Identifying Areas Where Colorectal Cancer Screening Disparities Exist

District of Columbia Cancer Registry

Data from the District of Columbia (DC) Cancer Registry revealed high rates of colorectal cancer among DC residents. Unfortunately, service use data show limited access to and use of colonoscopy screening, the gold standard in early detection of colorectal cancer. Disparities in access to colonoscopy screening, particularly among residents in Wards 7 and 8, may increase morbidity and mortality from colorectal cancer.

To increase access to this lifesaving screening, the DC Cancer Consortium, in collaboration with the DC Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, funded a citywide program to provide colonoscopy screening for uninsured and underinsured residents. An award of $885,000 was provided for a collaboration between the Howard University Cancer Center and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (Georgetown University) to start the DC Screen for Life program for underserved DC residents. Its goal is to reduce logistical, language, and other barriers that impede optimal health in underserved and uninsured populations of DC.

The focal point of this initiative is a commitment by Howard and Georgetown to overcome the individual, physician, and health care access barriers in Wards 7 and 8 through coordinated outreach, education, and navigation. During the evaluation of the extent of disparities, it was discovered that Ward 4 needed to be included in the DC Screen for Life program.

Via the DC Screen for Life program, the Howard/Georgetown partnership seeks to educate 1,200 underinsured and uninsured district residents about colorectal cancer and perform at least 400 colonoscopies and 200 fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) procedures on qualified patients.

By reviewing DC Cancer Registry data, we identified the areas in DC where disparities exist and directed attention to increasing screening in these areas to serve residents better.

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