The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) recently achieved a major milestone by passing the benchmark of two million cancer prevention services provided to communities in all 254 counties of Texas. The institute, which is focused on fighting cancer through prevention and support of research, announced the new milestone in a press release and explained that the projects range from tobacco cessation, vaccinations, and screenings to genetic testing, counseling, and survivor care.
To date, CPRIT has provided 2,211,119 prevention services to the Texan population since its establishment in 2009, including 1,105,907 education and training services and over 1.1 million clinical services. Due to these efforts, the institute has been able to provide 16,562 prevention vaccinations, 189,842 tobacco cessation services, 17,036 genetic tests and counseling, and offer survivor care to 10,743 Texans.
“This is a momentous occasion in CPRIT’s history and it demonstrates how Texas leads the nation in the fight against cancer,” said the agency’s CEO Wayne Roberts. “Our innovative and proven cancer prevention strategies are saving or extending the lives of thousands of Texans who ordinarily might not have access to screenings and diagnostics. The greatest opportunity to reduce the burden of cancer is by reducing its incidence – preventing it altogether.”
CPRIT’s chief prevention and communications officer Becky Garcia also explained the importance of preventing cancer: “I get asked, ‘When are we going to find a cure for cancer?’,” stated Garcia. “My response is that we have a cure for cancer. Its prevention. For example, if people stopped smoking, an estimated 80 percent of lung cancer deaths could be prevented along with 30 percent of other tobacco related cancers.”
A total of 146 cancer prevention grants have been awarded by CPRIT, totaling $142,189,920 in funding to support the creation of 1,105,212 clinical preventive services, 528,645 screenings and diagnostics for breast, cervical, colorectal and liver cancers. Due to the programs supported by CPRIT, 42,991 abnormal results, 3,340 cancer precursors and 1,477 cancers were detected.
Up to ten percent of total funding is awarded by CPRIT annually to cancer prevention programs and services in Texas, and the institute is currently funding 55 prevention programs, which includes projects like one being developed by Abbey Berenson from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to help low income pregnant women get access to HPV vaccinations.
The HPV Vaccinations project provides women with assistance to take advantage of prevention opportunities and gain wider access to the healthcare system. The program was designed to implement standing orders for postpartum HPV vaccinations during regular visits to physicians for pre and postpartum care, particularly designed for a population with low HPV vaccination rates. In only one year, it was able to increase HPV vaccination rates from 9 to 83 percent.
Another recent CPRIT grantee is Dorothy Gibbons from The Rose in Houston, who is leading the Empower Her to Care project for breast cancer screening. Focused on underserved minorities, the program aims to provide easier access to mammography screenings as well as raise public awareness. As part of the project, 5,044 women have already received breast cancer screening, of which 1,800 had never been screened.
The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) at El Paso was also awarded a CPRIT grant to support its colorectal screenings project ACCION, being conducted in collaboration with over 20 different organizations. It is a bilingual program that offers educational and screening services, and has already detected abnormal growths in 36 people and cancer in 7 more.
The project Identifying Patients with Hereditary Breast-Ovarian Cancer and Lynch Syndrome from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas) is being supported by CPRIT as well, as it is the only telemedicine program in Texas of its type and has screened over 61,000 underserved women for HBOC over the past 20 months, as well as 500 underserved patients for colon and uterine cancer.
In addition, Carol Rice from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service (College Station) was granted funding for her program Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings in Rural, Frontier and Border Counties, which was designed to help underserved women make appointments and receive breast and cervical cancer screenings. So far, 3,157 women have been screened, from which 198 abnormalities and 42 cancer precursors were identified.