March 12, 2019 – WASHINGTON, DC – More than 51,000 people in the U.S. are expected to die from colorectal cancer this year. Most of those deaths could have been prevented. Understanding colorectal cancer screening tests and recommendations is key to ensuring access to lifesaving screening.
Today, at the Rayburn House Office Building, experts from the American College of Gastroenterology, American Gastroenterological Association, and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, with special guest Representative James McGovern, outlined colorectal cancer risk factors, explained the differences among colorectal cancer screening options, and highlighted barriers to screening at a special briefing in honor of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
While colonoscopy is probably the best-known screening test, there are several options for those at average risk, including some newer at-home testing options. Consumers need to know not only which test is appropriate for them; they also need to be aware of how their health insurance defines screening and covers various types of tests. Physicians, patients and policymakers must be aware of coverage pitfalls and limitations that can present real obstacles to getting screening and proper follow-up.
Attendees learned the latest science, its relevance to policy decision-making, and how these decisions affect the screening-eligible population.
Steven A. Edmundowicz, MD, FASGE
University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO President, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
“Screening for colorectal cancer has the potential to save more than 50,000 lives each year in the U.S. Consumers and decision-makers have a lot of information coming at them about screening options. I speak for all of the experts and healthcare providers represented by our organizations when I say that there has never been a greater need for good understanding of, and access to, screening.”
Jason A. Dominitz, MD, MHS, FASGE
University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA
Governing Board, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
“If we commit to increasing access to screening, we can save lives. Every year, 135,000 people in the US are diagnosed with this cancer. And 51,000 are expected to die from it this year alone. That's an entire stadium full of people. But the five-year survival rate is excellent if caught early -- nearly 90 percent. The way to do that is through quality screening, which can not only detect early cancer, but also can prevent colorectal cancer.”
David A. Lieberman, MD, AGAF
Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR
President, American Gastroenterological Association
“We know that screening saves lives and we need to promote policies that increase screenings for patients. One thing Congress can do is pass the Removing Barriers to Screening Act that would fix the coinsurance problem that Medicare patients face when their screening colonoscopy becomes therapeutic. This policy change will remove the financial barriers that Medicare patients face when accessing screening and will help save lives.”
Renee L. Williams, MD, MHPE, FACG
NYU Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, NY
Board of Trustees, American College of Gastroenterology
“Colonoscopy is unique in its ability to not only detect but to prevent colorectal cancer. This power of prevention is why it’s so vital that we close the colonoscopy loophole, thereby expanding access to colonoscopy, preventing more cancers, and, inevitably, saving more lives.”