At a news conference Nov. 16 on TTUHSC’s Amarillo campus, TTUHSC surgical oncologist Subhasis Misra, M.D., hosted a group of state and local leaders who pledged their support for the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable’s “80% by 2018” initiative that seeks to regularly screen 80 percent of adults aged 50 and older for colorectal cancer by 2018.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed and the second leading cause of cancer mortality in the U.S. Misra is working to meet 80% by 2018 screening goals in the Texas Panhandle — and save lives — through “Get F.I.T. to Stay Fit,” a project he started using a grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
Misra said the most common type of screening offered for colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy, which requires preparation, medication, diet changes and time away from work that can be a financial barrier for many patients. The Get F.I.T. to Stay Fit program utilizes Fecal Immunochemical Testing (F.I.T.) as a primary screening method for those of average risk. Because rural communities face greater difficulties in accessing health care, Get F.I.T. to Stay Fit provides all screening services 100 percent cost-free to area patients.
“The best test is one that patients will do, and F.I.T. does not require any change to medications, diet or daily living in order to complete the screening,” Misra explains. “Add in the fact that patients can do the test in the privacy of their own home and then mail in their samples in a pre-paid envelope, and you have an effective method to bridge some of the disparities faced by our rural communities.”
To date, Misra said more than 1.1 million people have been reached by the Get F.I.T. to Stay Fit program, including more than 8,600 who have been reached through face-to-face encounters with program personnel. In addition, more than 750 people have completed screening under the program, 108 have received colonoscopies and two cases of colon cancer have been detected and successfully treated.
“Our program aims to break down the barriers faced in the community and to provide an effective and nationally recognized alternative screening method to colonoscopy,” Misra added.
For more information about the Get F.I.T. to Stay Fit program, please visit the Get F.I.T. to Stay Fit website.