Posted on 03/18/2014
Washington, D.C. (March 17, 2014) — Dozens of groups dedicated to eliminating colorectal cancer as a major public health problem joined together at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to hear new data related to progress in reducing deaths from colorectal cancer and to launch an effort to increase the nation’s colorectal cancer screening rate to 80 percent by the year 2018. Colorectal cancer screening is proven to save lives, and new data shows that investing in colorectal cancer screening efforts is paying off.
American Cancer Society data released at today’s event finds colon cancer incidence rates have dropped 30 percent in the U.S. in the last 10 years among adults 50 and older due to the widespread uptake of colonoscopy. The study, appearing early online in the American Cancer Society’s CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, finds the largest decrease has occurred in people over age 65, in whom the rate of decline has surged, with the decline accelerating from 3.6 percent per year during 2001-2008 to 7.2 percent per year during 2008-2010. The larger declines among these Medicare-eligible seniors likely reflect higher rates of screening because of universal insurance coverage. Colonoscopy use has almost tripled among adults ages 50 to 75, from 19 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2010.
The Cancer Coalition of South Georgia is joining with other members of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable to focus efforts over the next four years on dramatically increasing the U.S. colorectal cancer screening rates and increasing awareness of the potential for early detection and prevention of this cancer. More than 50 organizations have already pledged to embrace the shared goal of increasing national colorectal cancer screening rates to 80 percent by 2018.
Leaders of the effort started the day with a visit to the White House to brief public health officials on the effort. The White House has declared March National Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States among men and women combined. This year alone, nearly 137,000 men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer while another 50,000 will die from it. Research shows colorectal cancer screening tests save lives, but too many adults have never been screened.
About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. who are aged 50 to 75 years have not been tested for colorectal cancer as recommended according to a CDC report.
“Colorectal cancer screening represents one of our best lifesaving tools,” said Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Everyone should know there are several lifesaving screening tests – and the best test is the one that gets done.”
The Cancer Coalition of South Georgia, through its Community Cancer Screening Program, works to bring life-saving cancer tests to the uninsured and underinsured residents of 32 South Georgia counties in addition to engaging these communities through education, research and outreach initiatives. Part of the 80 percent by 2018 goal is to leverage the energy of multiple and diverse partners in the community to empower patients, providers, community health centers and health systems to deliver coordinated colorectal cancer screening and follow up care.
Organizations represented at the launch included the American Cancer Society, HHS, CDC, Cancer Coalition of South Georgia, AARP, Fight Colorectal Cancer, Walgreens, American College of Gastroenterology and National Association of Community Health Centers.
“This is one of the great combined public health commitments I have seen in my career and it represents the entire spectrum of organizations who have one goal: to increase colon cancer screening rates,” said Richard Wender, M.D., chair of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable and chief cancer control officer for the American Cancer Society. “Each organization brings passion, competence, and creativity to our shared effort,” he said.
“Today is really about a celebration,” said Dr. Wender. “It’s a celebration of how far we’ve come in the last 10 years, of reduced cases of colon cancer, and of our collective commitment to saving thousands of more lives each and every year from this preventable and treatable cancer.”