UAMS’ Ronda Henry-Tillman Receives $2.5 Million Grant to Examine Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates in Two Counties

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The Cancer Control Program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute has been awarded a $2.5 million grant to provide colorectal cancer education and screenings in St. Francis and Mississippi counties.


The five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities will fund the Colorectal Cancer Education and Screening Program, a community-based research program combining the efforts of the Cancer Institute’s Cancer Control Program with that of local residents in the two rural Arkansas counties.


For information about screenings, call the Cancer Control Program at 1-800-259-8794.


“Arkansas has one of the highest deaths rates from colorectal cancer in the country,” said Ronda Henry-Tillman, M.D., principal investigator of the Colorectal Cancer Education and Screening Program and professor of surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine. “This is largely due to a lack of education about the importance of preventive health screenings and a lack of resources in rural areas. This grant will give us the opportunity to work with communities to address low colorectal screening rates.”


The funding will provide home test kits to be distributed to residents of St. Francis and Mississippi counties, along with cards reminding those who receive a kit to administer the test and submit the sample either to community physicians or participating providers. Educational materials also will be provided.


This funding will allow the Cancer Institute to collaborate with community physicians and health leaders to address the need identified by the members of the St. Francis and Mississippi County Cancer Councils. 


“We are very optimistic that by giving people the convenient home-based kits, they will feel more comfortable about the test and will be more likely to participate in the screening,” Henry-Tillman said.


An estimated 1,690 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in Arkansas in 2008. When diagnosed early, there is a 93 percent five-year survival rate. That number drops to 8 percent for those diagnosed with late-stage disease. Risk factors include smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and a diet high in red meat and low in fiber.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,538 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,600 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. Visit