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Economy could reduce colorectal cancer screening rate
Date:2/25/2009

Bethesda, MD (March 1, 2009) Even in the best economic environment, only half of the people who need colorectal cancer screening receive the life-saving test. Those without health insurance or with limited coverage that does not include colorectal cancer screenings are even less likely to be screened. During March, Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) is working to raise awareness of how the economy could negatively impact cancer screening. A bill in Congress could help bridge the gap.

"The mortality rate of colorectal cancer continues to decline but remains the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.," said Robert S. Sandler, MD, MPH, AGAF, president of the AGA Institute. "Colon cancer death is largely preventable through screening, which can detect disease in an early, curable stage. Screening with colonoscopy can also prevent cancers by removing precancerous polyps. Unfortunately, most people at risk are never screened. We need to reverse that trend."

Due to the worsening economy, many people are losing health insurance or are faced with higher premiums and are forgoing preventive screening, including for colorectal cancer. Additionally, barriers to screening still exist among racial and ethnic lines, with African Americans and Hispanics being more likely to lack health insurance, thus less likely to be screened. These individuals have a higher death rate due to more advanced disease at diagnosis.

The AGA firmly believes that all Americans should have access to lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings. Average risk patients should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 50. The AGA is working with our advocates in Congress and coalition partners to ensure patients have the ability to consult with their doctors to choose the screening options that are best for them.

AGA Supports Creation of CRC Screening Program at CDC

Rep. Kay Granger, R-TX, plans to
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Contact: Aimee Frank
media@gastro.org
301-941-2620
American Gastroenterological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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