WNC Colorectal Cancer Screening Initiative
The WNC Colorectal Cancer Screening Initiative (WNC-CRCSI) currently provides colorectal cancer (CRC) screening to average risk, uninsured, low income patients between ages of 50-75 in Buncombe and Madison Counties. The program is run by Digestive Health Partners in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, federally qualified community health centers, and the WCMS Foundation’s Project Access. The program was founded by local physician, Dr. Michael Newcomer. As of 2019, the WNC-CRCSI is a non-profit 501(c)(3) officially housed within the WCMS Foundation.
How WNC-CRCSI Works
Participating community health centers provide uninsured, average risk patients age 50 or older with a fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
Patients with a positive FIT who meet the program’s criteria receive a colonoscopy with no out of pocket cost.
WNC-CRCSI patients who are under 65 years of age, below 138% FPL and who have been residents of Buncombe or Madison counties for at least one year qualify for Project Access and therefore can obtain hospital based endoscopy services, colonoscopy, anesthesia, pathology and cancer treatment services at no cost.
Why it Matters
Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in the U. S., but is highly treatable when detected early
By participating in the WNC-CRCSI, Buncombe county’s largest community health center has increased its CRC screening rate from 34% to 63%.
Services provided through programs like WNC-CRCSI can have a significant impact in decreasing screening disparities in the uninsured.