The Colon Cancer Alliance is now awarding individuals with cash stipends to help offset the cost of receiving a colonoscopy, Stephanie Guiffre, director of prevention and research said yesterday.
The stipend is part of The Blue Hope Prevention Award Program, an initiative that was launched in May by the Alliance in partnership with Boston Scientific to help develop nationwide screening assistance.
The program is available to anyone who is uninsured and average risk (aged 50 years or older) as well as those in the high-risk category or those presenting with symptoms.
“Colon cancer is highly preventable, treatable, and beatable if caught early,” Guiffre said. “So screening for colon cancer can either prevent an individual from getting cancer altogether because it’s one of those cancers that detect precancerous polyps which can be removed before it even becomes a cancer. In addition,if it’s caught in its very early stages, it can be cured.”
The stipend portion of the program was announced in July and is open to anyone in need based on income level that is in need of being screened. The $300 stipend, which is awarded to individuals on a quarterly basis, can be used to offset the cost of a screening as well as pay for copays, deductibles, transportation and childcare costs, and lost wages, Guiffre said.
“One of the major challenges is that there is a need, but an individual doesn’t have insurance or they don’t have the means to get screened,” she said. “What we’ve tried to accomplish during this program is a two-pronged approach. We not only provide assistance for the screening itself screening, we also provide the stipend in which people in need can apply for and can help offset the cost of screening or make up for that day of work or use the money for transportation or child care."
So far, The Blue Hope Prevention Award has helped 31 individuals receive colonoscopies or begin the process to undergo a colonoscopy.
Guiffre said a number of polyps were detected in these individuals and safely removed. Cancer was detected in one individual, but through the help of the Colon Cancer Alliance, she was able to get help and is now cancer free, she said.
“If a cancer is detected, then the program would also help the patient be guided through the treatment process and help set them up with a program that would provide low-cost treatment,” Guiffre said.
Since it is recommended that relatives of those diagnosed with colon cancer get screened 10 years earlier than when their relative was diagnosed, it is important for oncology nurses to explain this to any colon cancer patient they are treating, Dr. Laura Porter, Colon Cancer Alliance Patient Advocate and Medical Consultant said.
Individuals can apply for the stipend by visiting the website (http://www.ccalliance.org/screeningassistance/index.html