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Saint Louis Receives Grant to Fund Biopsies for Uninsured

“A critical element of programs providing community-based cancer education and screening programs for underserved populations is assuring a pathway to care for individuals with abnormal results,” says Dr. Ricardo Wray, Co-Director of Saint Louis University’s Center for Cancer Prevention, Research, and Outreach (CCPRO).

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[Photo: Dr. Ricardo Wray]

“Our program encountered a Catch 22: with some effort, men can get public insurance for treatment for prostate cancer, if they have a diagnosis. But the biopsies and clinical care required to obtain a diagnosis are not covered by public insurance.”

The center has been awarded a grant of $16,720 from the Episcopal Presbyterian Health Trust (EPHT) to expand the Prostate Cancer Education and Screening Program, which offers free Prostate-Specific Antigen testing to uninsured and underinsured African American men in St. Louis. The funding will allow about 10 uninsured men who have elevated PSA scores to receive diagnostic biopsies at no cost, as well as follow-up services and assistance in applying for Medicaid if the biopsy shows cancer.

“We are delighted that the EPHT has provided essential funding to bridge the gap between screening and treatment,” says Dr. Wray.

SLU’s Prostate Cancer Education and Screening Program has served more than 200 uninsured or underinsured African American men living in North St. Louis City and North St. Louis County since 2013. The program offers participants one-on-one education with survivors and a clinician, before having their blood drawn for the PSA test, to ensure the men make an informed decision about screening. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among African American men. According to the American Cancer Society, the death rate for prostate cancer is almost 2.5 times higher in African American men than in white men.

Saint Louis University’s CCPRO brings together clinical and outreach resources with practice-based research in order to prevent cancer deaths among underserved populations with high cancer risk. CCPRO was established in 2012 by SLU’s Cancer Center and the College for Public Health and Social Justice. Working closely with community partners, CCPRO works to address breast, prostate, and head and neck disparities in the St. Louis area.