There is some evidence that early detection and treatment of cancer can significantly improve health outcomes, but women in Mississippi, particularly in underserved populations, experience the worst health outcomes for cervical, breast and oropharyngeal cancers.
A new publication from Michelle Williams, an associate professor in George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services Department of Global and Community Health, published in the Journal of Cancer Education, evaluates the feasibility of offering free same-day cancer screening and health education to the differences of “preventable cancers.” Williams evaluated the effects of providing access to free mammograms, Pap and pelvic exams, and oral cancer screenings on participants’ knowledge of cancer, self-efficacy in obtaining health care, and intentions to change their health behaviors.
Williams and colleagues evaluated an implementation of the See, Test, & Treat Program, an evidence-based program developed by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Foundation, which they adapted for use with uninsured and disadvantaged women in the Jacksonville metropolitan area. . See, Test, & Treat participants were informed about cancer screening during their consultation with health care providers. Key features of the See, Test & Treat program were that participants received screening results within 2 hours and participants who received abnormal results were able to make a follow-up appointment at a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) before departing. In addition, upon arrival at the screening site’s waiting room, participants were able to choose from a variety of health activities, including demonstrations of healthy cooking, yoga and Zumba.
Cancer screenings are a valuable tool for early cancer detection, although uninsured and underprivileged women may not have access to routine life-saving screenings. Evaluating the implementation of this program demonstrates the feasibility of providing vulnerable populations with access to free cancer screenings and delivering same-day screening results.”
Michelle Williams, Associate Professor, George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services Department of Global and Community Health
The majority of participants reported attending the See, Test & Treat program because they wanted free cancer screening and could get the test results back the same day. The majority of participants reported that the program had a positive effect on their knowledge of cancer screening and their self-efficacy in seeking regular checkups. In addition, the participants reported that the health education activities had a significant effect on their understanding of the cancers they were screening for, as well as health, diet and exercise.
Follow-up appointments were made for all participants who received abnormal test results, including 18 women who received abnormal mammogram results. 15 of the 18 women received a diagnostic mammogram, three of whom required biopsies. All biopsy results were benign. Two of the women who received the oral cancer screenings had abnormal results and both were referred for treatment. None of the 44 Pap smears tested were abnormal, but 14 women were diagnosed with trichomonas and referred for treatment.
Overall, the program was well received by participants and successfully provided uninsured and underprivileged women with free cancer screening and health education. When asked what they liked most about the program, participants indicated the convenience of same-day screening results and that the staff treated them with respect. One participant reported that the staff “didn’t make me feel like someone who didn’t have health insurance.” Limitations of the evaluation approach include the lack of long-term follow-up because the evaluation survey was completed anonymously. William plans to include an interview and follow-up survey of all participants in future iterations of the program.
Participants learned of the program through advertisements distributed through channels such as churches, health centers and social media. Childcare is available for participants with young children. The American Cancer Society guidelines were used to determine your eligibility for breast and cancer screening. 72 women met the eligibility requirements, 53 women were screened and 52 participants completed the evaluation survey.
Williams initially led the evaluation of the program while working at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMCC) Cancer Center and Research Institute and will continue her evaluations at George Mason University. The program evaluation is funded by the Foundation College of American Pathologists (CAP).
Williams, MS, et al. (2021) The College of American Pathologists Foundation’s See, Test & Treat Program®: An Evaluation of a One-Day Cancer Screening Program Implemented in Mississippi. Cancer Education Journal. doi.org/10.1007/s13187-021-02060-9.