Gina Molina, right, a nurse in Capital Health’s Regional Health Center’s Gastroenterology Center in Trenton, talks with a patient about the importance of undergoing a colonoscopy to screen for precancerous polyps or the presence of cancer.

Gina Molina, right, a nurse in Capital Health’s Regional Health Center’s Gastroenterology Center in Trenton, talks with a patient about the importance of undergoing a colonoscopy to screen for precancerous polyps or the presence of cancer.

Program funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb Saves Lives 

A Third of At-Risk Population Screen Positive in Colorectal Program

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or 60-year-old Leyla Cordero, a colorectal cancer screening funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb was a life saver. And she’s not alone in catching a preventable cancer early. For the past 10 years, the Capital Health Family Health Center has consistently diagnosed and removed precancerous polyps in a third of the people screened through a program funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“Our program serves Trenton and surrounding communities, addressing uninsured and underinsured folks who do not have resources to receive colonoscopy screenings,” said Rona Remstein, R.N., M.S.N., director of Oncology Services. Often individuals have never received screenings for either colorectal or lung cancer, both covered by the Bristol-Myers Squibb grant, so the program provides a critical first-time, life-saving opportunity. 

“This year, from January to June, 54 percent of the patients, or 19 of them, had at least one polyp,” she said. The screenings prevented colorectal cancer in 13 individuals.

On average, about 20 percent of all colonoscopies performed nationally discover at least one adenomatous polyp, a benchmark much lower than what was ascertained from our 2018 Colorectal Cancer Screening program

“On average, about 20 percent of all colonoscopies performed nationally discover at least one adenomatous polyp, a benchmark much lower than what was ascertained from our 2018 Colorectal Cancer Screening program,” an interim report to Bristol-Myers Squibb said. “Capital Health is higher than this benchmark because we screen a population that is high risk, never having had the opportunity to have a colonoscopy. Thankfully, no cancers were discovered in any of the patients screened in the first half of 2018.”

Remstein noted that colon cancer is a preventable cancer. Without a colonoscopy, however, it cannot be prevented. “If you have symptoms, it’s usually too late for treatment,” she cautioned. 

Uninsured and underinsured populations who may not be eating well or taking care of their health are at higher risk for the disease, she said. It was for that reason that Capital Health asked Bristol-Myers Squibb to provide financial support to cover the costs of screenings for clients at the hospital’s Family Health Center in Trenton.  

For Cordero, a resident of West Berlin, N.J., her screening two years ago identified a large and a small polyp, both of which were removed. She returned to the Family Center for a follow-up appointment six months later, at her doctor’s recommendation. Since then, she said, she’s has become a serious advocate for screenings. “I tell everyone over 50 to get screened. Early detection is really good.”  

For over a decade Bristol-Myers Squibb has supported free cancer screenings at Capital Healthclinics for colorectal and lung cancer for hundreds of patients. The program also educates and encourages patients to undergo cancer screenings.