Vanderbilt Free Colonoscopies For Uninsured Detected Some Early Cancers and Was Cost Neutral Interview with:
Erica R. H. Sutton, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Surgery, General
Vanderbilt What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable diseases that we face; however, despite the great strides that we have made in the realm of early detection, many people still do not undergo screenings. We sought to increase the availability of screenings to those in our community who are at high risk for colorectal cancer and uninsured by providing free colonoscopies to them and to examine the cost-effectiveness of this intervention. Over a 12-month period, 682 uninsured people underwent screening colonoscopies, and 9 cancers were detected. Compared to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry, our patient population included more early-stage cancers, and our program was found to be cost-neutral. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: While providing free colorectal cancer screening to the uninsured is certainly altruistic, we have shown that the cost of running this program is equal to the cost of our current practices without it. By showing that we can reduce the morbidity and mortality of this disease through screening in a manner that is cost-neutral, we hope that other physicians, hospitals, and healthcare systems are inspired to deliver these services to the uninsured members of their communities so that we can advance the fight against colorectal cancer and move one step closer to eradicating it. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: While we have shown that programs similar to ours are not only medically- but also cost-effective, the next challenges are to identify the best practices in engaging the uninsured patient population to get screened and to develop similar programs across the United States. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


J Am Coll Surg. 2016 Jul;223(1):129-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2016.04.035. Epub 2016 May 26.

Cost Analysis of Free Colonoscopies in an Uninsured Population at Increased Risk for Colorectal Cancer.
Sutton ER1, Walling S2, Kimbrough C2, Borkhetaria N3, Jones W4, Sutton B3

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on

[wysija_form id=”5″]



Last Updated on July 6, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD