A pharmacy protocol that seeks to make screening for colorectal cancer even simpler for some patients was approved this week by the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy. The protocol specifies the criteria and procedures for pharmacist(s) to provide education and information specific to colorectal cancer (CRC), and when appropriate, initiate noninvasive, stool-based CRC screening using fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or stool DNA test (e.g., sDNA-FIT). This means some patients could be taking care of their colorectal cancer screening at their local CVS, Walgreens, or independent pharmacy—the same place they go for a flu shot, COVID-19 vaccine or regular prescriptions.

“Kentucky is the first state in the nation to have this type of protocol passed, and why not here?” said Dr. Whitney Jones, founder of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project. “Colorectal cancer is treatable and preventable when caught early, and this new protocol will allow the general population more avenues to get screened on time.”

Take-home tests for colorectal cancer screening are recommended for average-risk individuals ages 45 years and older. Average-risk individuals are those who do not have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or a confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as Lynch Syndrome.

The protocol was approved following advocacy efforts to remove barriers to screening in Kentucky by the Colon Cancer Prevention Project and Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC), a national patient empowerment organization. The two groups brought together a wide array of stakeholders to develop the protocol, and the efforts were funded in part through Fight Colorectal Cancer’s Catalyst State-by-State Advocacy Program that works to increase access to screening through state-level policy change.

“Our founder Nancy Roach has often said her dream is for colorectal cancer screening to be as easy as going to the local drugstore and picking up a test,” said Anjee Davis, president of Fight Colorectal Cancer. “Kentucky has been an innovator for screening, and we are both celebrating this victory with our partners at the Colon Cancer Prevention Project and hopeful that other states will follow.”

Upon completing training approved by the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy, participating pharmacies can begin providing take-home stool tests to the public as early as the end of this year.