Funding for cancer prevention and control in Colorado approved for one more yearAug 21, 2020
Written by Andrea (Andi) Dwyer, Director of the Colorado Cancer Screening Program
July 1, 2020 marked the start of another year of funding for the Colorado Cancer Screening Program (CCSP) for Patient Navigation but just like most things in 2020…it’s not just another year for the decade long program.
CCSP is a Program of the University of Colorado Cancer Center with faculty and staff leadership from the Colorado School of Public Health. CCSP supports the safety net clinics in Colorado to increase colorectal cancer screening and also expanded to lung cancer and hereditary cancer screening.
Keeping the funding for cancer prevention and control in Colorado was was harder this year amidst a pandemic. CCSP is funded through the Cancer Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Grants Disease Program (CCPD). In the 2019/2020 legislative session, as a state of fiscal emergency was declared, the program budget could have been dramatically reduced or completed defunded. For several years, CCSP has had to educate the public and legislature on the importance of cancer screening and advocate for funding as the CCPD funding source expanded to a broader portfolio of diseases or focus areas than when the grants program was established.
In the wake of COVID-19, we are now picking up the pieces after a stand-still in cancer screening, disruptions in cancer care, and preparing for the increased cancer incidence and mortality as a result. The elective procedure ban dramatically reduced elective procedures in Colorado and the CCSP saw a 95% drop in people who were navigated into life-saving colonoscopies, low-dose CT imaging and genetic counseling (March-June of 2020 as compared to 2019 rates). This is particularly salient as CCSP is one of the only statewide programs in Colorado with emphasis on delivering care to residents in rural communities, BIPOC communities, and for those with limited incomes and most challenged to access resources. We are at the cross-roads of health and access to care; the need has never been more apparent.
To address this need, CCSP and other programs targeted at reducing health disparities have helped aid in fiscal support and technical support to deploy programs for patient navigation and helping reducing the factors that get in the way of people getting screening, like transportation and securing bowel preparation. CCSP has navigated over 30,000 people into preventive screening and prevented hundreds of cancers and equally caught cancers when they were earlier in stage and easier to treat. There is also great fiscal implication for these case studies of prevention and disease management.
CCSP made it another year with CCPD grant support, fingers crossed. Beyond the summer of 2021, the future of the program is not known but with the support of the Colorado Cancer Coalition and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, there are opportunities to explore how programs for the medically underserved might sustain beyond fleeting grant funding. The University of Colorado and ColoradoSPH team is honored to work with our safety net clinic systems and community partners to make the most of this year and continue to champion the cancer cause to all Colorado communities.