Cancer is the second leading cause of death in New York City, killing approximately 13,000 New Yorkers every year.
Each year, approximately 1,500 New Yorkers die from colorectal cancer, yet most of these deaths are preventable with proper screening. Private funding through the Fund for Public Health in New York (FPHNY) supported the launch of an innovative program by the NYC Health Department's Cancer Prevention and Control Program to increase the utilization of screening colonoscopy and increase access to preventive services to prevent colon cancer. The program engaged patient and provider "navigators" to conduct community outreach and raise awareness of the importance of colon cancer screening, provide support to patients and work with hospitals and providers to reduce barriers to accessing health care.
The navigator program produced replicable systems and tools that were introduced citywide with documented positive impact on health that saved the hospitals money. Over seven years, the program has expanded from one pilot hospital site to 21 hospitals. Currently, the program is operating in 8 public (HHC) and 7 voluntary hospitals. As the program expanded, surveillance data from 2009 to 2010 showed navigator hospitals increased colonoscopies screenings from 58% to 65%. NYC Community Health Survey (CHS) data shows that between 2003 and 2009, an additional 560,000 New Yorkers were screened for colon cancer. These additional screenings translate into:
The CHS data documents another important milestone for the Cancer Prevention and Control program — the virtual disappearance of race-based screening disparities. Since the start of this important initiative, screening rates in NYC have increased by 80% among Blacks and 66% among Hispanics.
Seven years ago, only 43% of New Yorkers age 50 and older had been screened for colon cancer during the previous decade. Today, 66% of all New Yorkers 50 and older have had a colonoscopy in the past ten years, representing a major achievement for the Take Care New York health agenda.