Grant money provides free testing to find colorectal cancer

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Every year in this country, as many as 160,000 people learn they have colorectal cancer, and about 50,000 deaths every year are blamed on that kind of cancer.

That comes from a team of experts at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center who are trying to make a difference in finding that cancer before it becomes cancer. Dr. Rebeccah Baucom says, “In colorectal cancer, we actually have the opportunity to not just screen for and look for cancer that is already there, but we have the opportunity to potentially prevent something from ever turning into cancer.”

She is among a team under the guidance of Dr. Rakshanda Rahman, Medical Director for the UMC Cancer Center. With Dr. John Kidwell, the three have been awarded a million-dollar grant to provide colorectal cancer test kits for use at home. They are called Fit Kits, an acronym for Fecal Immunochemical Testing. The Fit Kits will be aimed at reaching the underserved and uninsured in Lubbock and across the South Plains. Dr. Kidwell explains, “The kit is straightforward and easy to use. It includes a biodegradable piece of paper that is placed in the toilet, which receives the stool, and there is a swab in the kit, which you use to swab the top of the stool. This swab is then placed in a packet, which is then placed in another container, which is then mailed to our facility to undergo micro lab testing”

Typically, it has been recommended that colorectal screening begins at age 50. But that’s not the case anymore since the face of that patient is getting younger.

Dr. Baucom says, “We are starting to see the incidence of colorectal cancer increase in younger and younger patients. And so the recommended screening age for average risk individuals is now 45.” However, she adds that people with a family history of colorectal cancer may need to be tested even earlier than age 45.

Dr. Kidwell says in 15 counties across the South Plains and even up into the Texas panhandle, there will be many outreach events to educate folks about this Fit Test and to make them available at no charge to those who are eligible. He adds, “If the FIT test were to be positive, then the next step would be a colonoscopy, which we provide pending a positive test result.”

The grant comes from CPRIT, the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas.