Colorectal cancer screening pilot program for underserved women in Cumberland County, Maine.

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Journal of community health

MeSH Headings

Adult, Aged, Colorectal Neoplasms, Community Health Services, Community Networks, Early Detection of Cancer, Female, Health Education, Health Services Accessibility, Health Status Disparities, Humans, Maine, Mass Screening, Medically Underserved Area, Medically Uninsured, Middle Aged, Occult Blood, Pilot Projects


Over 800 Maine residents will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer (CRC) this year, and nearly 300 will die from the disease. While CRC screening can reduce these rates, it is only among insured populations that screening rates exceed 50%. This project aimed to reduce barriers to, and increase rates of CRC screening among underinsured and uninsured women, ages 50 years and over, residing in Cumberland County, Maine. The existing network of the Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program (MBCHP) was used to reach the target population. A packet containing (1) an offer for no-cost fecal occult blood test (FOBT) screening and CRC-related educational materials, and (2) a stamped, addressed postcard specifying the woman's interest in these resources, was mailed to 300 MBCHP enrollees residing in Cumberland County. Women requesting screening were contacted by phone to further determine eligibility. Ninety-three women (31%) requested FOBT kits and 29 of these women requested educational materials. Ten women were ineligible for screening because of previous colonoscopy. Fifty-two completed FOBT kits (63%) were returned; all were negative. An additional 42 (14%) women requested educational materials only. To reduce the burden of CRC in Maine and nationally, disparate populations must be reached with efficient and effective screening services. Established networks are proven means for reaching uninsured and underinsured individuals with education, screening services, and necessary follow-up care. This project serves as a model for the future development of similar programs statewide and nationally.



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