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FORT WORTH – May 26, 2015 - Patients in 20 counties in North Texas will have access to free colon cancer screenings under a $4.8 million grant to UT Southwestern’s Moncrief Cancer Institute. 

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has awarded its largest prevention grant to Fort Worth’s Moncrief Cancer Institute to provide screenings at no cost to the underserved in Tarrant and surrounding counties. The award includes navigation to follow-up care if required. 

Moncrief will send screening invitations to nearly 174,000 adults throughout the region, based on a pilot program developed with patients at John Peter Smith Health Network (JPS) in Fort Worth. Since 2010, the pilot and subsequent programs have screened more than 6,200 patients at JPS. 

During the initial programs, researchers at UT Southwestern and Moncrief learned that JPS patients preferred the less invasive home fecal immunochemical test (FIT) to colonoscopy. Results were published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in August, 2013. 

“We determined screening completion was twice as high for patients offered a simple, at-home test kit compared to colonoscopy,” said Dr. Keith Argenbright, Director of Moncrief Cancer Institute and principal investigator of the expanded program. “That proves the adage: the best test is the test that gets done.” 

In addition to support from the American Cancer Society and the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, Moncrief will build a collaborative network of hospitals and clinics in the 20 county region to identify medically underserved patients who are age 50 and older and are not up-to-date with their screenings. 

“In the eight years JPS has partnered with Moncrief and UT Southwestern, we have discovered we share a commitment to putting patients first,” said Robert Earley, JPS Health Network President and CEO. “Helping our patients receive crucial cancer screenings that can lead to life-saving care is the why we welcome the opportunity to participate in this research program.” 

Along with Tarrant County, the grant will cover rural counties where Moncrief has been providing mammograms for the uninsured for several years. The 20 county area includes: Bosque, Clay, Comanche, Cooke, Denton, Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Jack, Johnson, Montague, Navarro, Palo Pinto, Parker, Somervell, Wise and Young counties. 

In this area, researchers estimate four of every five uninsured adults haven’t been screened, and a total of 200,000 people need colorectal cancer screening. 

“This program allows our National Cancer Institute designated cancer center to continue to research the most effective ways of screening large populations for cancer,” said Dr. James Willson, Director, Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern. “We will make a difference in the lives of thousands of men and women in North Texas.” 

As the third leading cause of cancer death in Texas, 9,000 colorectal cancer cases will be diagnosed each year with treatment costs exceeding $3.7 billion dollars annually.     

Media contact:

Mary Stewart