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Project may lead to national screening program for colorectal cancer


Narrator:       This is Science Today. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States, yet screening for this disease lags far behind those for other cancers. Now, doctors at the University of California, San Francisco, are implementing a cost-effective new screening model that targets uninsured patients.

Allison:          If you look at the screening rates between 2000 and 2008, nothing has happened in the uninsured population and that's because they don't have access to colonoscopy and it won't be reimbursed. So it is fortunate that we do have a much simpler test called a fecal immunochemical test that can be used to screen large groups of patients.

Narrator:       Researcher James Allison has spearheaded a pilot project at San Francisco General Hospital and is in the process of expanding it to other county hospitals in California. His team has also partnered with community health network clinics to provide free treatment to all patients diagnosed with cancer after screening.

Allison:          We hope this will be a model not just for California but actually a national model. What the CDC wants to do is have a national screening program.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.