Public Release: 

CDC and AGA join forces to bring colorectal cancer screening to the uninsured

Everyone aged 50-75 should be screened for colorectal cancer

American Gastroenterological Association

Bethesda, MD (March 18, 2013) - Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women nationwide. During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) are joining forces for the second year to promote free colonoscopies for uninsured patients.

To bring this lifesaving test to patients who would not otherwise have access, gastroenterologists with the AGA are partnering with CDC's Colorectal Cancer Control Programs (CRCCP) throughout March to screen patients in five states.

"Colorectal cancer is largely preventable, through screening. It's important for men and women to get screened, beginning at 50," said Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH, director of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. He continued, "Through the Colorectal Cancer Control Program grantees and AGA volunteers, we are able to offer important and life-saving screening to more people. The CDC is proud of its work with the AGA to support and promote colorectal cancer screening."

More than 25 gastroenterologists are coordinating with CRCCP grantees to conduct free colonoscopies throughout March in: Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. Health departments in these states work with local primary care providers to identify patients, conduct health assessments, and schedule the eligible patients for appointments for their colonoscopy procedures with AGA members and their support staff providing free services for the event.

In 2012, AGA gastroenterologists, CRCCP programs, and their partners in seven states provided colonoscopies to more than 200 patients. Of the patients screened, approximately half had at least one polyp and a total of 215 polyps were removed. Five patients were diagnosed with cancer and all are received appropriate treatment. Among those involved in implementing the project were gastroenterologists, nurses, patient navigators, local health departments and partner agency employees to name a few.

"All Americans should have access to life-saving colorectal cancer screenings. If caught early, colorectal cancer is very treatable," said Carla H. Ginsburg, MD, MPH, AGAF, chair, AGA Public Affairs & Advocacy Committee. "AGA is honored to be coordinating for the second year with the CDC's CRCCP program and the physicians who are donating their time to screen patients who wouldn't otherwise be checked for colorectal cancer. We encourage all patients over age 50 to talk with their doctor about their colorectal cancer screening options."

There are a number of tests to screen for colorectal cancer. These tests have varying bowel preparation requirements, time intervals and costs. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines call for regular screening of both men and women for colorectal cancer, starting at age 50 years and continuing until age 75 years, by any of the following three regimens: annual high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing; sigmoidoscopy every five years combined with high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing every three years; or screening colonoscopy at intervals of 10 years.1

In addition to following recommended screening guidelines, people can reduce their risk of developing or dying from CRC through regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight. For detailed information on CRC, please visit the CDC website and review the AGA Institute brochure CRC Prevention and Treatment and guide and video Preparing for a Colonoscopy. The AGA offers a GI Locator Service at http://www.gastro.org/patient-center.

About Colorectal Cancer Screening2

According to CDC, overall, 58.6 percent (CI = 57.3 percent-59.9 percent) of adults reported being up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening. This is lower than the Healthy People 2020 target of 70.5 percent. Nearly identical proportions of men (58.5 percent) and women (58.8 percent) reported being up-to-date. Whites were significantly more likely to report being up-to-date than blacks or Asians. Hispanics were less likely to report being up-to-date (46.5 percent [CI = 42.9 percent-50.2 percent]) than non-Hispanics. Among respondents who 1) had been in the U.S. for <10 years; 2) did not have a usual, nonemergency department source of care; or 3) did not have health insurance, less than a quarter reported having been screened within the recommended interval. Respondents aged 65-75 years were more likely to be up-to-date than those aged 50-64 years. Significant upward trends were seen in the proportion of adults up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening from 2000 to 2010 using any colorectal cancer screening regimen.

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1 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Recommendations for adults: cancer. Rockville, MD: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force; 2011. Accessed Feb. 23, 2012. Available at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/adultrec.htm .

2 CDC. Cancer Screening -- United States, 2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Jan. 27, 2012. Accessed Feb. 23, 2012. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6103a1.htm.

CDC's Colorectal Cancer Control Program

CDC established the CRCCP in 2009 to increase colorectal cancer screening prevalence among Americans aged 50 years and older. Twenty-nine grantees (25 states and four tribal organizations) are currently funded. One component of the CRCCP is to offer no-cost screening to eligible low income, un- and underinsured individuals. Programs have agreements with both primary and specialty care organizations in order to identify patients and provide services. Patient navigation is a critical component of the program to ensure patients successfully complete screening.

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About the American Gastroenterological Association

The American Gastroenterological (AGA) Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the American Gastroenterological Association has grown to include close to 17,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. Learn more at http://www.gastro.org.

Follow us on Twitter @AmerGastroAssn. Become an AGA fan on Facebook.

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