Family Medicine launches colorectal cancer screening project

A project that focuses on improving screening rates for colorectal cancer in primary care practices is being conducted by Upstate Medical University’s Family Medicine Department in conjunction with faculty from  the University of Buffalo and the University of Rochester Medical Center. The project’s aim is to determine if educational and administrative support provided to the practices will improve screening rates among their patients.

According the principal investigator and director of the project, Christopher P. Morley, PhD, practice sites that serve relatively high numbers of uninsured, under-insured, and Medicaid patients, such as community health centers and clinics, are particularly being sought to participate in the project.

“Participating practices will receive on-site education on screening guidelines for colorectal cancer and practical strategies to improve patient access to colorectal cancer screening,” said Morley, vice chair for research in the Department of Family Medicine, and associate professor of family medicine, public health and psychiatry at Upstate. “Practices will also receive assistance developing supportive strategies to track and improve cancer screening rates in the patients they serve.”

The project titled, Increasing Cancer Screening through Academic Detailing and Practice Facilitation, is funded by the state Health Department/Health Research Inc., by way of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Upstate-Buffalo-Rochester collaborative is New York state’s sole recipient of the grant.

The project will operate within three practice-based research networks to recruit primary care offices for enrollment: the Studying-Acting-Learning & Teaching Network (SALT-Net) based in Syracuse; the Upstate New York Practice Based Research Network (UNYNET) based in Buffalo; and the Greater Rochester Practice Based Research Network (GR-PBRN) based in Rochester. The three networks collaborate through the UNYTE Translational Research Network, centered at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Additional partners include the Upstate Cancer Center; a consulting physician from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo; and several area health education centers (AHEC) in Central and Western New York.

(Visit HealthLink on Air to hear Morley discuss the study.)

The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women aged 50 and older, who are at average risk for colorectal cancer, have a flexible sigmoidoscopy, a double-contrast barium enema, or a CT scan-assisted “virtual colonoscopy” every five years, or a full colonoscopy every 10 years. People at higher risk for colorectal cancer, including those with a history of polyps in the colon and rectum, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, or a family history of colorectal cancer or precancerous conditions, should begin screening earlier and more often. Each individual should talk with their primary care provider to determine her or his own risk level and appropriate screening schedule.

Practice sites that wish to learn more about the project should contact the project coordinator, Emily Mader MPH MPP at (315) 464-6040.

Caption: Christopher P. Morley, PhD, serves as principal investigator and director of the colorectal cancer screening project.

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