Number of Minorities Receiving Colon Cancer Screening Increases in New York City, Mainly Due to ‘Patient Navigators,’ Survey Shows
The number of New York City residents ages 50 and older who have received a colonoscopy has increased by about 50% in five years, with the largest rates of increase among minorities, the New York Times reports.
According to a survey, 1.25 million people received the procedure in 2007, compared with 826,000 in 2003.
The survey found that among New York City residents ages 50 and older:
- 64% of blacks received a colonoscopy in 2007, compared with 35% in 2003;
- 63.3% of Hispanics received a colonoscopy in 2007, compared with 38% in 2003;
- 53.6% of Asians received a colonoscopy in 2007, compared with 25% in 2003; and
- 62.2% of whites received a colonoscopy in 2007, compared with 48% in 2003.
The New York Citywide Colon Cancer Control Coalition -- a group of physicians, insurers, union workers, hospital administrators and city health officials -- has been working to increase the colonoscopy rate among those ages 50 and older. The coalition recommends that members of that age group who do not have a family history or other risk factor for colon cancer receive the screening once every 10 years. Those with a family history of the disease or other risk factors should receive the screening more often.
The coalition also introduced the concept of bilingual "patient navigators," who would call people to encourage them to make a colonoscopy appointment and then guide patients through the process of receiving the procedure. The navigators provide a range of support services, such as describing what patients should do to prepare for a colonoscopy to facilitating transportation after the procedure.
Elithea Maysonet, manager of the first group of patient navigators, said, "What proved the program's worth was that in our initial year, our no-show rate decreased from 67% down to 10%, and our screening rates tripled. Now the navigators are being pulled to other departments for things like diabetes."
The navigator program is now operating in 16 hospitals in the city and has helped coordinate 30,758 colonoscopies between 2003 and 2007.
The colon cancer coalition's next goal is to reach an 80% screening rate by 2011 (Hurley, New York Times, 6/6). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.