Why It Matters
Cancer is among the leading causes of death in Travis County according to the latest data from Austin Public Health. And the people who are most affected are those with the least access to care and the greatest likelihood of severe disease. It’s an issue that Dell Med and its partners are tackling.
With the Livestrong Foundation’s transformational gift to establish Dell Med’s Livestrong Cancer Institutes, intervention efforts from care partners such as Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare Health Centers and Lone Star Circle of Care, and funding from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), Dell Med is using its unique position as an innovative academic health center to make an impact on the cancer community at large.
Reducing Health Disparities Through Early Intervention
Catalyzed by more than $7.8 million in funding from CPRIT, collaborations between Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare Health Centers, Lone Star Circle of Care and Dell Med are expanding cancer prevention and care programs in Central Texas.
Lung & Alcohol-Related Cancers
For CommUnityCare and Lone Star patients, lung cancer and alcohol screenings, combined with smoking and drinking cessation programs, have helped more than 4,500 individuals understand risks and/or take actions such as quitting or pursuing additional diagnostic services.
Breast Cancer Prevention: Big Pink Bus
The Big Pink Bus, which provides breast cancer prevention services to uninsured, low-income and high-risk individuals in Central Texas, has screened over 1,000 patients by bringing mobile mammograms to individualized locations with support from the Central Texas Addressing Cancer Together coalition.
Since 2017, the collaborative work between Dell Med and CommUnityCare to screen uninsured and low-income patients for colorectal cancer has resulted in the delivery of more than 48,000 at-home test kits and over 400 colonoscopies.
These prevention and care efforts, driven by $4.85 million in CPRIT funding, have increased the screening rate among CommUnityCare patients from 19% to 40%.
What Innovative Research Makes Possible
Research at Dell Med leverages collaboration across the University of Texas at Austin campus to accelerate scientific discovery into tools for healing and healthy lives. In the work to advance cancer prevention and care, this includes:
- New ways to predict tumor response to cancer therapy. A new mathematical modeling technique accurately predicts the response of tumors in breast cancer patients to treatments such as chemotherapy.
- Better access to HPV vaccination and cancer screening. Data from surveys and insurance claims reveals the factors that keep people from getting access to lifesaving HPV vaccination and cancer screenings so they can be addressed.
- Improved value of skin cancer screening. By estimating how often skin cancer melanoma is “overdiagnosed” and examining the effect on quality of life, researchers are gaining a better understanding of how to use screenings for maximum benefit.
By the Numbers
Dell Med teams are partnering with community health care organizations to improve cancer outcomes across the broad spectrum of prevention and care. An increase in research trials and studies in addition to active funding awards is contributing to an impactful boost in cancer screenings and diagnostic services as well as new models in cancer therapy.
Additionally, faculty and staff are continuing the collaborative approach to cancer research and care through pilot initiatives and outreach with the Central Texas Addressing Cancer Together coalition, which brings care to counties without funding for safety-net services.
Date published: June 2022