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"A Tremendous Opportunity"

New Hampshire Colorectal Cancer Screening Program singled out as one of the best

The New Hampshire Colorectal Cancer Screening Program aims to increase CRC screening to 80% of the state's residents age 50 and older by 2014.

Focus article photo

Lynn Butterly, MD

A key part of the Cancer Center's community outreach for cancer prevention, the New Hampshire Colorectal Cancer Screening Program (NHCRCSP) has been singled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a best-practices model to increase colorectal cancer screening and thus prevent colorectal cancer. Funded by the CDC and developed in collaboration with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), NHCRCSP aims to increase CRC screening to 80% of the state's residents age 50 and older by 2014. In addition, the NHCRCSP will provide a small number of free colonoscopies to low income uninsured NH residents.

"This program offers a tremendous opportunity for us to genuinely improve the health of the people of New Hampshire," comments Lynn Butterly, MD, medical director of the NHCRCSP. "Colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers we can actually prevent, rather than just catch at an early stage. The way we prevent it is through colorectal cancer screening."

Nationwide, more than 147,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are reported every year, with nearly 50,000 deaths reported per year, according to the American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the country after lung cancer. In New Hampshire, 730 new cases of colorectal cancer are reported each year.

NHCRCSP works with patients, providers, health organizations, community health centers, the DHHS, the NH Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration, insurance companies, and the Cancer Center to increase  colorectal cancer screening statewide, and to address financial barriers for low-income and uninsured individuals. Those who meet financial and clinical requirements are provided with free education on colorectal cancer screening, a free colonoscopy screening test and preparation, and free services designed to help them obtain and prepare for the test.

Allen Dietrich, MD, one of the nation's leading researchers in primary care and Associate Director for Population Sciences at the Cancer Center, calls NHCRCSP a "sweet spot" where the eventual impact could be huge. Nationally, he says, "applying what we know about screening could prevent 18,800 cases of colon cancer a year."

October 25, 2010