Texas Cancer Programs: Working Together to Expand Breast Cancer Screening Services
The Texas Cancer Registry is a statewide, population-based registry that collects data to measure the state’s cancer burden, as well as its progress in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer among residents. In 2009, data from the registry showed that six counties in the western Dallas-Fort Worth area had the highest incidence of invasive breast cancer in the state. These counties are Tarrant (which includes the city of Fort Worth), Denton, Wise, Parker, Hood, and Johnson. These 6 counties cover about 5,000 square miles and have a combined population of nearly 3 million people. Registry data also indicated that access to mammography screening in these counties was limited and that screening rates for breast cancer were low.
To address this public health problem, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Moncrief Cancer Institute proposed expanding the institute’s Breast Cancer Screening and Patient Navigation (BSPAN) program. The BSPAN program works to remove geographic and financial barriers that prevent women from getting the services they need and helps patients navigate the health care system. It was developed on the basis of guidelines from the 2005 Texas Cancer Plan, which is the foundation of the Texas CCC Program.
Because of the BSPAN program’s success in the primarily urban Tarrant County, researchers proposed expanding it into Tarrant’s rural, underserved neighboring counties. Staff working in the BSPAN program and the Moncrief Cancer Institute met with epidemiologists in the Texas Cancer Registry and the Texas Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening program to discuss the best way to analyze registry data and coordinate their efforts. BSPAN program staff also applied for funding from the new Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
The application for this funding highlighted the program’s collaborations with other state organizations and provided data from the Texas Cancer Registry to demonstrate the need for expanded services in areas with high rates of disease and low rates of screening. It also proposed that registry data be used to monitor and evaluate the program’s success.
The application was successful, and the BSPAN program received more than $900,000 to expand its services into Denton, Wise, Parker, Hood, and Johnson counties. This expansion will increase access to breast cancer screening, diagnostic mammograms, and biopsies, which should help to reduce cancer rates among women in these counties.