Three years ago, Stephen Cadmus faced a dilemma. He needed to see a doctor, but he had no health insurance.
To get the medical attention he needed but couldn’t afford, Cadmus visited a local clinic that offered reduced-fee services. He shared his concerns about seeing blood in his stool, and doctors gave him a take-home test called FIT, or fecal immunochemical test. Test takers swab a small amount of stool on a stick, place the stick in a plastic container and mail it to a lab for analysis.
Within days, the results of Cadmus’ test showed blood in his stool — a possible indicator of colorectal cancer — so he underwent a colonoscopy. Results showed he had stage II colorectal cancer.
“I had absolutely no other symptoms that would have led me to believe anything was wrong,” he says. “My worst fears were realized.”
Cadmus’ FIT test and colonoscopy were provided free through the FIT-Flu program. Designed by colorectal cancer experts at the University of California, San Francisco, the program offers free FIT tests, along with annual flu shots, to low-income, uninsured, Medicaid-eligible adults ages 50 to 75. FIT-Flu is underway at various sites throughout the country, including MD Anderson. The American Cancer Society recommends the program and helps clinics implement it.
“Without this program, my cancer would not have been discovered,” Cadmus says. “On so many levels, I am very fortunate.”
Since 2013, MD Anderson has partnered with federally qualified health centers in nine Texas counties to provide cancer screening and prevention services, including FIT-Flu. These centers receive enhanced reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in exchange for providing care to those covered by Medicaid, the joint federal and state program that helps those with limited income and resources get medical care.
“MD Anderson’s programs have leveled the playing field by allowing us to provide our patients with screenings they couldn’t easily get,” says Kavon Young, M.D., medical director of El Centro de Corazon, a partner clinic in Houston’s historic East End that primarily serves uninsured Hispanic patients.
Read more about the FIT-FLU program and other screening services MD Anderson is helping to provide to underserved populations in Conquest magazine.