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  • June 16, 2016

Cancer Screening Initiative Launches in North Dakota

Bismarck, N.D. — The North Dakota Department of Health's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) have partnered to increase cancer screening rates for colorectal cancer for North Dakotans in need.

According to the state's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, North Dakota has a compliance rate of 62 percent for colorectal cancer screenings, which means 38 percent of the population ages 50-74 are past due for screenings.

  • Each year, approximately 400 individuals will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in North Dakota.
  • This year, approximately 135 people will die from colorectal cancer in North Dakota.
  • 42 percent of all colorectal cancers diagnosed in the past ten years were identified at late stage, when it is much more difficult to treat.

The 2015-2017 North Dakota Colorectal Cancer Screening Initiative is a state and federally funded grant program that supports efforts to increase cancer screening rates by removing the most common barriers to screenings: cost and awareness. Grants have been awarded to Northland Community Health Center based in Turtle Lake and Family HealthCare based in Fargo to increase colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screening rates.

The grant allows these health centers to identify eligible North Dakota residents to receive screenings at no cost; BCBSND will serve as a partner administering the claims associated with screenings. The primary focus is to get individuals screened who are 50 to 64 years of age, have a low income, are uninsured or underinsured, are due or past due for screenings, and have average or increased risk for colorectal cancer.

Napoleon Espejo, MD, and Medical Director at Family HealthCare commented, "As a community health center, Family HealthCare is committed to primary care and preventative medical treatment for our patients. This grant funding helps us place an emphasis on colorectal cancer awareness. Additionally, it will allow us to expand access to preventative screenings for patients who previously may not have been afforded this opportunity."

"Northland Community Health Center is committed to serving the needs of our patients and the communities we serve by providing primary medical care, oral health, as well as mental health services in an economical manner and right where our patients live," said Patrick Butler, CEO, Northland Community Health Center. "The 2015-2017 North Dakota Colorectal Cancer Screening Initiative allows Northland the opportunity to bring additional preventative cancer screening to individuals who may not otherwise been able to access such screenings."

About ND Department of Health and Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
The mission of the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is to "protect and enhance the health and safety of all North Dakotans and the environment in which we live." The goal of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control is to increase cancer prevention and awareness by engaging in partnerships, collecting and reporting data, assuring quality data, providing public and professional education, and assuring availability of quality services for screening, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) was founded in 1940 with the mission to provide members with affordable access to health care across the state. As a member-owned, not-for-profit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, BCBSND continues to provide the best value in health care coverage through unmatched local service and access to a comprehensive network of health care providers across the state, the nation and in 200 countries.