Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in Latino men and women combined, and barriers to preventative screening are often the cause of lower than average screening rates in this minority population. Barriers are often driven by factors like socioeconomics, which contribute by liming access to colorectal cancer education and screening opportunities.
Though the Latino population has a more trusting relationship with their physicians than other ethnic groups, they report that doctors are not discussing or recommending screening options during medical appointments. With high value placed on their health, Latinos are motivated to get screened when information is available, doctors recommend it, and it is accessible. Yet factors like affordability, no family history, no symptoms, and lack of information and recommendations from their medical providers present barriers to screening for many in this community.
Sea Mar Community Health Centers is the largest federal qualified health center in Washington state, and they are making an increased effort to change the perception and the statistics about colorectal cancer in their local Latino community. With over 30 medical clinics in the Seattle area, Sea Mar provides comprehensive care for the community, including health services.
In 2016, they saw over 370,000 office visits, with more than 28,000 clients being over the recommended screening age of 50. Though colorectal cancer screening has been part of Sea Mar’s health program, taking the NCCRT pledge of an 80% screening rate by 2018 has motivated them to raise their own screening rate of 44% – well below Washington’s screening rate of 70%.
Through a Center for Disease Control Colorectal Screening Grant, Sea Mar has been participating in a proactive mailFIT program to get take home screening tests and information into the homes of those that are eligible. The CDC grant is part of a $23 million program aiming to increase screening in low income, underinsured, uninsured, and certain racial and ethnic groups.
With a grant from funds raised at Get Your Rear in Gear – Seattle, Sea Mar will be able to offset the cost of these mailed FIT kits, and continue to grow their community outreach program. Through health fairs, awareness tools likes an inflatable colon, and instructional posters that provide information about colorectal cancer, FIT screening, and colonoscopies, Sea Mar is getting the information into their community and into the hands of the unscreened. It’s local efforts like this that are helping us increase the national screening rate, one test at a time.
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