Arizona Digestive Health to Provide Free Colonoscopies to Low Income Patients with CDC, CCA & AZDHS

As part of its education and prevention efforts for Colon Cancer Awareness Month this March, Arizona Digestive Health is joining with the Center for Disease Control (CDC),  the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS),  Arizona Chapter of Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) , and Mountain Park Health Center to provide free colon cancer screenings to low-income, under-insured or uninsured members of the community.

Starting Wednesday March 28, Arizona Digestive Health physicians and staff, in collaboration with the other three collaborative partners, will perform as many as 50 colonoscopies in three days through the CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP).

Mountain Park Health Center will identify participating patients who have no coverage for colorectal cancer screening or are unable to pay. Interested individuals who wish to participate in this pilot program can call Raquel Acosta, Cancer Program Manager at (602) 323-3380.

The Arizona Chapter of the Colon Cancer Alliance will provide funding for colonoscopy preparation materials for the participating patients as well as provide funds to cover fuel expenses for those traveling to the event. The CCA is a national patient advocacy organization dedicated to ending the suffering caused by colorectal cancer. In order to increase rates of screening and survivorship, CCA provides patient support, education, research and advocacy across North America.

Using funds received from the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Undy5000, ADHS, through contracted partners, will purchase Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program coverage for any patients that may be diagnosed with colorectal cancer during this event.  For the uninsured unable to access this event, ADHS has the Fit at Fifty Health Check Program providing colorectal cancer screening for uninsured Arizonans.  This program is Arizona’s component of the Colorectal Cancer Control Program and is funded by the CDC. Interested individuals can call (602) 323-3377 for more information.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, but is preventable when caught early. According to recent studies, colonoscopy alone can reduce a patient’s risk of dying from colon cancer by more than 50 percent. “One of our main priorities as gastroenterologists is the prevention of colon cancer, and this program is a valuable part of that effort, said Dr. Paul Berggreen, president of Arizona Digestive Health.“We are happy to donate our services and resources to ensure this effort is a success now and in future years.”

Beginning in 2009, the Colorectal Cancer Control Program works to increase colon cancer screening rates among men and women age 50 to 64. Through non-profit organizations, corporate sponsorship and volunteers, many of the CRCCP’s initiatives are at no cost to the patient. More information about CRCCP is available online at, www.cdc.gov/cancer/crccp/.