TTUHSC El Paso’s Vital Cancer Prevention Programs Receive $ 5 Million Funding From CPRIT

TTUHSC El Paso Team – Love Your Colon Event

TTUHSC El Paso Team – Love Your Colon Event

TTUHSC El Paso Team – Love Your Colon Event

EL PASO, Texas, September 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Colorectal cancer is present in Jose Gaytan’s family. Preventing the disease was therefore a priority for the 51-year-old man. However, he could not afford regular cancer screenings.

That was the case until last year, when her mother saw a flyer for the Southwest Coalition for Colorectal Cancer Screening (SuCCCeS) program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. Gaytan immediately signed up for a free screening.

“I had never been tested because I had no money or insurance,” Gaytan said. “My aunt and uncle died of colon cancer, so it was on my mind a lot.”

TTUHSC El Paso’s SuCCCeS and Breast Cancer Education, Screening and Navigation (BEST) programs screen for cancer and provide cancer prevention education to uninsured or underinsured residents. The programs have helped save lives in dozens of West Texas counties for nearly a decade.

BEST and SuCCCeS are funded by a state agency, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The agency funds both public and private higher education institutions and recently renewed funding for the two TTUHSC El Paso screening programs for a total of $ 5 million.

Since 2011, more than 32,500 uninsured or underinsured patients from El Paso and West Texas have enrolled in the programs. The result was the discovery of 39 cases of breast cancer and 30 colorectal cancers, including the disease in Gaytan in January 2020.

“When they told me I had cancer, I felt like my world fell apart and I was depressed,” Gaytan said. “Fortunately, the SuCCCeS program helped me by attending all of my appointments until the end of my operation. After the operation, they checked me to make sure I was okay. “

Gaytan’s last treatment was at the end of 2020 and he is currently in remission. He said he never expected to receive this kind of help in El Paso until he came across the SuCCCeS program. Several members of his family followed suit and were also examined.

The screenings provided by the programs are vital in the predominantly Hispanic Borderland. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Hispanic women in the United States, and colorectal cancer death rates among Hispanics are higher in El Paso County than in the rest of Texas.

“We have made a huge difference in our community and others in West Texas. Over the past few years, we have reached over 30,000 people with educational outreach and have provided 9,000 individual screenings,” said Jennifer Molokwu, MD, MPH, Director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Division of the Cancer Emphasis Center at TTUHSC El Paso. “Uninsured or underinsured people tend to avoid testing because they are concerned about the cost. We want them to know that we are there to help them.”

Dr Molokwu is also Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Specialist in Family Medicine at the Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso. Earlier this year, she took over as director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Division, which oversees all cancer screening programs.

“They see our success in El Paso and West Texas, which is one of the main reasons CPRIT continues to fund our programs,” said Dr. Molokwu. “El Paso is underserved when it comes to health services and doctors. It is worse when it comes to cancers: rectal, breast and cervix. “

BEST assisted residents of El Paso County in Pecos County, while SuCCCeS reached the Texas Panhandle to Floyd County. In total, the two programs cover 37 counties in West Texas, many of which lack specialists and are not covered by similar programs in central and south Texas.

Berenice Zubia at 915-253-9399 or [email protected]

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Image 1: TTUHSC El Paso Team – Love Your Colon Event

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