Health Brigade pilot program detects signs of colon cancer

(Photo: Health Brigade)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A pilot program at Health Brigade aims to help patients detect colon cancer without missing a day of work for a colonoscopy.

Through a partnership with Hitting Cancer Below the Belt (HCB2), Health Brigade has been able to distribute 85 Fecal Immunochemical Tests (FIT).

FIT kits offer at-home screening for colon cancer, the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death for men and women combined.

“We use a patient navigator to engage and educate the patient,” says Dr. Wendy Klein, the medical director of Health Brigade. “We have had a remarkably successful return rate.”

Of the 85 FIT kits distributed over a ten-month period, Health Brigade had 66 patients complete them. Health Brigade then referred patients who tested positive for a colonoscopy.

Health Brigade says there have been six completed colonoscopies to date, and all revealed abnormal premalignant polyps that have been removed.

“Melinda Conklin, the founder of HCB2, has really made this project possible for us,” explains Dr. Klein. “She has worked with Polymedco, the manufacturer, to get these tests to us for free.”

HCB2 is a Richmond-based nonprofit working to break down barriers to colon cancer screening.

Health Brigade, formerly Fan Free Clinic, serves vulnerable populations within the community, including uninsured and low-income patients, along with those who face barriers to healthcare due to social stigma.

March is National Colorectal Awareness Month.

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