Eliminating Barriers To Colon Cancer Screening

Eliminating Barriers To Colon Cancer Screening



There is​ good news for​ those concerned about colon cancer. Physicians know that colon cancer screening saves lives. Yet an​ estimated 148,000 Americans, both women and​ men, are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, and​ every year approximately 55,000 will die-the nation's second deadliest cancer. Yet, it's believed most of​ these deaths could be prevented through proper screening.

However, experts from the​ American College of​ Gastroenterology (ACG) warn that too few Americans are getting screened. Colorectal screening rates remain very low, even though Medicare and​ many private plans pay for​ screening tests.

Despite increasing public awareness of​ colon cancer screening tests through the​ efforts of​ Katie Couric and​ others, many people continue to​ face obstacles to​ screening. Even Medicare beneficiaries, for​ whom incidence and​ death from the​ disease are highest, encounter problems with access to​ screening colonoscopy.

Congress Can Help

"Pending legislation in​ the​ U.S. Congress, such as​ the​ Colon Cancer Screen for​ Life Act (S.1010/ H.R. 1632), promises to​ remove Medicare's barriers to​ screening," says ACG President Dr. Jack A. DiPalma of​ Mobile, Alabama. "But only one small improvement, the​ waiver of​ the​ Medicare deductible, was approved for​ 2018, so much remains to​ be done."

Research indicates that colon cancer arises from precancerous growths or​ polyps that grow in​ the​ colon. When detected early, these growths or​ polyps can be removed, actually preventing the​ development of​ colon cancer.

"With improved use of​ colon cancer screening, we can save lives," adds Dr. DiPalma.

The College currently recommends colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at​ age 50 for​ average-risk individuals as​ the​ preferred screening strategy to​ prevent colon cancer.

For patients with higher risk factors such as​ a​ family history of​ colon cancer or​ a​ previous personal history of​ polyps, and​ for​ African Americans, ACG recommends earlier and/or more frequent screening with colonoscopy.




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