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Home | Tag Archives: Navkiran Shokar M.A. M.P.H M.D

Tag Archives: Navkiran Shokar M.A. M.P.H M.D

TTUHSC El Paso Cancer Intervention Program Recognized by National Cancer Institute

A Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso initiative that is increasing the number of screenings for colorectal cancer across West Texas has caught the eye of the National Cancer Institute.

The federal agency has added TTUHSC El Paso’s ACCION (Against Colorectal Cancer in Our Neighborhoods) program to its database of Research-Tested Intervention Programs, making ACCION instructional and educational materials available to public health practitioners across the world.

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of death from cancer in the U.S. for both men and women. But in many cases the disease can be cured, or even prevented, with early detection through colorectal cancer screenings.

Unfortunately, many at-risk people don’t have easy access to colorectal cancer screenings. Poverty, lack of health insurance, lack of transportation, and low levels of health education are some of the barriers that prevent adults from receiving screenings. The beginning recommended age for colorectal cancer screenings is 50.

“If you get screened and you get the appropriate follow-up, you really do prevent cancer,” Shokar said. “You find it early and the outcome is a lot better.” | Photo Courtesy TTUHSC El Paso

Launched in 2011 by , director for Cancer Prevention and Control at TTUHSC El Paso, ACCION brings colorectal cancer screenings and preventative information to the community, in settings such as churches, health fairs, food pantries, low-income housing complexes, community centers and clinics serving the uninsured.

Its aim has been to increase screening rates across West Texas, currently around 50 percent, compared to a national average of about 70 percent. The program has been funded by grants from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

“If you get screened and you get the appropriate follow-up, you really do prevent cancer,” Shokar said. “You find it early and the outcome is a lot better.”

The program uses promotoras—bilingual community health care workers—to connect with at-risk individuals. ACCION currently works with over 160 community organizations to help make screening more accessible.

“People have big transportation barriers,” Dr. Shokar said. “They don’t have access to cars, or the person with the transport is working and they only have one car. It’s very important that this program go to the community where people live, work and play, and that’s what we try to do.”

The success of the program has led to additional CPRIT funding. In August 2017, CPRIT awarded Dr. Shokar a three-year, $3.7 million grant to implement ACCION in major hospital and clinic systems throughout El Paso County. The grant will also be used to expand the program into West Texas; ACCION’s service area will now cover a 25-county area by partnering with service providers in those areas.

And now, thanks to the National Cancer Institute, the methods and materials behind the ACCION’s success can reach across the globe.

Learn more about ACCION and download program materials from the NCI’s RTIPs website.

TTUHSC El Paso Receives $1.5 Million to Prevent Cervical Cancer in West Texas

Navkiran Shokar, M.A., M.P.H, M.D., has received nearly $1.5 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to reduce the burden of cervical cancer in West Texas.

“Hispanic women in our region have a 30 percent higher risk of dying from cervical cancer,” says Dr. Shokar, a physician and professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso). “They also have a higher incidence of cervical cancer and are typically diagnosed at later stages.”

De Casa en Casa’s reach is possible thanks to a community-wide partnership that consists of over 150 organizations, including TTUHSC El Paso, the West Texas Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the Texas Department of State Health Services, and multiple food pantries and community centers across the region. Photo by Tommie Morelos / TTUHSC El Paso.
De Casa en Casa’s reach is possible thanks to a community-wide partnership that consists of over 150 organizations. Photo by Tommie Morelos / TTUHSC El Paso.

Dr. Shokar will use the grant to expand De Casa en Casa, a program that helps uninsured or underinsured Latinas access free cervical cancer screenings, or pap smears. Since its establishment in 2013, De Casa En Casa has provided more than 1,500 pap smears to women in El Paso and Hudspeth Counties.

The new CPRIT funds will help the program expand its service area to 105 additional rural U.S.-Mexico border counties in Texas, stretching from as far away as Big Bend country to the Panhandle plains. Cervical cancer test rates in the region lag far behind the national average of 82 percent; only 63 to 71 percent of qualifying residents in these counties have been screened.

“This area we’ve targeted has a population of about 2.8 million,” says Dr. Shokar. “The region has high rates of poverty, low education, and low rates of health care coverage — making it the ideal location for health education and free diagnostic screenings to save more lives.”

Dr. Shokar and her team will begin the effort by organizing a convoy to visit a 19-county area between now and December. The TTUHSC El Paso team will offer cervical cancer prevention education, including a bilingual educational video, and free cervical cancer screenings to

Dr. Shokar will use the grant to expand De Casa en Casa, a program that helps uninsured or underinsured Latinas access free cervical cancer screenings, or pap smears. Photo by Tommie Morelos / TTUHSC El Paso
Dr. Shokar will use the grant to expand De Casa en Casa, a program that helps uninsured or underinsured Latinas access free cervical cancer screenings, or pap smears. Photo by Tommie Morelos / TTUHSC El Paso

qualifying residents. During the visit, the team will also provide training for local nurses and community health workers to increase awareness of cervical cancer, its symptoms, and common barriers that women in these communities face to get access to cancer screening and care.

Dr. Shokar’s ultimate goal is not only to have more women screened, but also to educate Hispanics about the importance of regular pap smears for early diagnosis — when cervical cancer is most curable — and thus, saving more lives.

De Casa en Casa’s reach is possible thanks to a community-wide partnership that consists of over 150 organizations, including TTUHSC El Paso, the West Texas Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the Texas Department of State Health Services, and multiple food pantries and community centers across the region.

This is Dr. Shokar’s fifth award from CPRIT as a principal investigator. Her grants have brought nearly $8 million to the El Paso community for cancer prevention and early detection services.

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