With a decade of success to increase colon cancer screening rates in Colorado, the Colorado Colorectal Screening Program is getting a facelift as the Colorado Cancer Screening Program (CCSP).

In an effort to provide “whole-person cancer screening” to underserved and underinsured Coloradans, the CCSP is working to expand its patient navigational services to include lung cancer screening, genetic and familial screening, and better align with breast cancer and cervical cancer programs. The initiative is designed to help patients navigate and understand the healthcare system when it comes to screening, diagnosis, treatment, follow up procedures and making cancer prevention a priority.

Coordinated through the University of Colorado Cancer Center, the CCSP is one of Colorado’s only preventative screening programs for cancer. As it has matured, the CCSP has become a model for other screening initiatives around the United States. Due to the success of increased colon cancer screening rates, the CCSP plans to increase its navigation services to include other cancer types as well as hereditary conditions that may lead to a cancer diagnosis. It will be one of the only coordinated efforts within primary care to integrate these services.

“We are hoping to navigate an additional 7,000 Coloradan’s to preventive screenings as well as identify those who are at a higher risk of developing these cancers,” says Andrea (Andi) Dwyer, Director of the Colorado Cancer Screening Program and Program Director at the Colorado School of Public Health. “The increased screening will have an enormous impact on preventing cancer diagnoses and deaths in our state, with focus on high risk, lung and colorectal cancer as the leading cancer killers’  In addition we are solidifying the sustainability of the navigation workforce in this effort and advance navigation in Colorado and nationally, says Dwyer.

Before the CCSP expanded to include other cancer types it was the Colorado Colorectal Screening Program. The Colorado Colorectal Screening Program started in 2006 as a way to reach people in urban and rural parts of the state where colon cancer screening rates were lowest. Now, over a decade later, nearly 30,000 people have been screened and it is estimated that more than 500 cancers have been prevented thanks to the initiative.

In order to reach as many people as possible, the CCSP works with safety net primary care clinics all over the state to increase screening rates. The program has partnered with local clinics in 56 of the 64 counties in Colorado.

“We are thrilled to partner with the CCSP program because of the support that it provides to our clinic and patients. The integration of preventive cancer screening for our patients, as well as the focus of sustaining these services and navigators after funding from these programs is no longer available, is invaluable.” says Mary Kay Knode, Specialty Clinic Director at the Melissa Memorial Hospital in Holyoke, Colorado

Other clinics in the Denver Metro area noted that the navigational services CCSP offers is key in making screening easier for both patients and medical professionals.

“Navigation is important to assist our vulnerable patients following specific directions for GI procedures and with transportation. We have much more follow through from patients because they work with our navigator and receive one on one assistance,” says Tamara Kirmer, registered nurse at Denver Health, one of CCSP’s partners. “Patients have better health outcomes when they receive health care navigation.”

CCSP is a program of The Cancer, Cardiovascular and Chronic Pulmonary Disease Grants Program (CCPD) which funds programs for early detection and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic pulmonary disease.