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Home | Tag Archives: Navkiran Shokar

Tag Archives: Navkiran Shokar

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.

TTUHSCEP Snags $1m of ‘Cancer Moonshot’ Grant, Will Study Colorectal Cancer Detection Tests

No one wants a colonoscopy. But there’s no getting around the lifesaving procedure — the gold standard for colon cancer detection.

With the development of the FIT test, or fecal immunochemical test, many breathed a sigh of relief. The noninvasive tool promises to accurately detect blood in the stool, often an early sign of cancer, allowing patients to skip the colonoscopy if test results are negative. What’s more, the sample can be collected in the privacy of one’s own home with no dietary or medical restrictions.

But just how accurate are these new FIT tests?

That’s what faculty at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) and a team of scientists from across the U.S. hope to find out. The research consortium, led by Barcey Levy, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Iowa, was recently awarded $4.5 million over five years as part of the Cancer Moonshot funded by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.

TTUHSC El Paso will receive about $1 million of the award, with Navkiran Shokar, M.D., M.P.H., M.A., leading the local effort. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is also a member of the team and is led by Seth Crocket, M.D., M.P.H.

“There are 16 FIT tests currently on the U.S. market,” says Dr. Shokar. “But there are no data on which of these is the best — or worst — for detecting colorectal cancer.”

She adds, “That could be a problem for patients who think they are all clear after getting false negative results. This is also why it is recommended to repeat the test every year.”

With the funds, Dr. Shokar will recruit men and women between the ages of 50 and 85 who are already scheduled for a colonoscopy. Participants will be given four different FITs for use. After collection, each sample will be mailed to the University of Iowa for analysis.

Each participant will subsequently complete a colonoscopy to definitively diagnose any colorectal cancer or polyps. The results will then be compared to the individual’s four FIT test results.

“Our number one goal is to identify which FIT test is the most accurate,” Shokar explains. “But we are also hoping to build awareness about these newer, more convenient FIT tests and get more people screened for colorectal cancer.”

In the U.S. alone, some 42% of eligible individuals are not up-to-date with their colorectal cancer screening. While discomfort and embarrassment are one screening deterrent, medical costs are another.

A colonoscopy can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $6,000, depending on the location of the procedure. A FIT test, however, can cost as little as $25, according to Dr. Shokar. The American Cancer Society and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable have challenged the U.S. to have 80 percent of adults ages 50 and older screened for colon cancer.

Shokar says, “The only way to reach this goal is to offer less invasive and less expensive tests for those who do not want to undergo a colonoscopy. FITs need to become mainstream for colorectal cancer screening in the U.S.”

She adds that most other countries with screening programs already use fecal diagnostic testing as

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