Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center serves urban, suburban, and rural populations throughout the 12 counties that make up the nearly 7 million-resident Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. As partner sites, the Dallas County and Tarrant County public hospital systems, Parkland and JPS Health Network, are invaluable proving grounds for new, more impactful ways of delivering cancer services, especially to people who lack financial resources for care
In a region in which nearly one in five people are uninsured and where urban centers quickly transition to rural communities, the Cancer Center’s outreach programs target populations that have greater financial, geographical, or other challenges in accessing care. These programs focus on prevention, screening and early detection (along with health care navigation), genetics, patient and family education, and cancer survivorship.
UT Southwestern’s Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth is an essential link to Tarrant County’s JPS network, as well as the hub for the Cancer Center’s rural network in western counties outside the metropolitan area. Through telemedicine, a mobile clinic, and extensive collaborations with local health care providers, Simmons Cancer Center and Moncrief deliver services to a wide swath of rural counties across North Texas.
Cervical Cancer. UT Southwestern cancer researchers at Parkland Health & Hospital System clinics are improving delivery of vaccination for HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer.
Lung Cancer. Research by Cancer Center members is addressing challenges that make it hard for homeless individuals to quit smoking, including inadequate no-smoking areas at shelters and difficulty accessing nicotine-replacement therapy.
Screening and Early Detection
Breast Cancer. Simmons Cancer Center’s Breast Screening and Patient Navigation (BSPAN3) program, based at Moncrief, strengthens community care resources and connects low-income and uninsured women in rural and underserved counties to local health care providers for screening, diagnostic, and follow-up services. The program, now in 17 counties, will expand to 21, reaching more than 180,000 women who are eligible for screening and connecting about 14,000 with services.
Colorectal Cancer. Simmons Cancer Center investigators have been building a coordinated, evidence-based strategy to increase colon cancer screening rates in the Parkland and JPS Health systems. The center’s research on multiple aspects of colorectal screening resulted in establishment of the Parkland-UT Southwestern Population-based Research Optimizing Screening through Personalized Regimens (PROSPR) Center, to expand the research and help export lessons learned in order to benefit patients across the U.S., especially those who are medically underserved. (The center’s mission has since been expanded to include cervical cancer.)
Like the BSPAN3 breast cancer program, the Cancer Center’s Colorectal Screening and Patient Navigation (CSPAN) initiative, also based at Moncrief, develops and fosters local partnerships across North Texas to improve screening rates among uninsured, underserved people and to help guide them to needed care. Building on previous Cancer Center research, CSPAN targets 20 local counties and 165,000 individuals due for screening, using test kits mailed to patients.
Liver Cancer. Cancer Center scientists, focusing their efforts at Parkland, are testing ways to overcome systemic obstacles that prevent patients at highest risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer, from receiving ongoing monitoring to catch the disease early.
Genetics/Patients and Family Education
Hereditary Cancer Risk. Working at UT Southwestern, Moncrief, and 15 sites throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, nine certified genetic counselors advise individuals about their personal risk of breast, colon, and other cancers; discuss the role of lifestyle and other risk factors in the disease; and guide patients through any recommended testing for genes that could increase their cancer vulnerability. Patients who test positive for a genetic predisposition to cancer work with their genetic counselor and physicians to obtain follow-up care, and counselors empower the patients to reach out to their family members who might likewise be at risk. The Cancer Center’s genetics team serves patients in rural areas by providing counseling at satellite sites and through telemedicine.
Cancer Answer Line. About 200 calls a month are fielded by Simmons Cancer Center’s Cancer Answer Line (1-888-980-6050), which allows callers to ask for information about treatment, clinical trials, cancer care referrals, quitting smoking, and more. Questions also are submitted through the Cancer Center’s website, at utswmedicine.org/cancer/community-outreach/cancer-info.html.
Moncrief Cancer Institute. Moncrief offers a robust range of services for cancer survivors, including exercise instruction, nutritional guidance, smoking cessation, genetics counseling, planning and coordination of follow-up cancer care, emotional support and stress management, and assistance with accessing community resources.
On-The-Road Outreach. Moncrief’s Mobile Cancer Survivor Clinic, a custom-designed 18-wheeler, travels twice a month to locations in nine North Texas counties, where more than half the population is considered medically underserved and where one-third of cancer survivors are at risk of not receiving adequate follow-up care due to factors such as lack of facilities or transportation. The mobile clinic provides bilingual services including mammography and colon cancer screening in addition to physical and psychosocial assessments, one-on-one exercise training, nutrition education, and telemedicine links to experts at Moncrief and Simmons Cancer Center.