CDC picks up the tab for colon cancer screening

CURE, Winter 2009, Volume 8, Issue 4

States get millions from the CDC to cover colon cancer screenings

The two primary goals of the program are to “increase colorectal cancer screening rates among the U.S. population 50 years of age and older, and to provide direct screening services to populations at greatest need,” says CDC health communications specialist Anita Blankenship.

The funds awarded to state and tribal health departments will support screening and diagnostic follow-up care, including necessary removal of polyps, by allowing gastroenterology and oncology practices to be reimbursed when they screen members of the target population. Although the CDC program does not cover colorectal cancer treatments, states and tribal associations will pick up the costs of therapy.

The states receiving funding are Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington. The tribal organizations are the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the Arctic Slope Native Association, the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency, and the Southcentral Foundation. The CDC expects awardees to begin screening patients by early 2010.

According to the CDC, only about half of Americans age 50 and older have been appropriately screened for colorectal cancer, and the number of new colorectal cancer cases could be reduced by about 90 percent if all precancerous polyps were identified using screening tests and removed before they became cancerous.

The program will run for five years, and funds will be renewed annually.

Learn more about the colorectal cancer program at www.cdc.gov/cancer/CRCCP, and contact your state health department to find participating locations.

In an effort to increase colorectal cancer screening among low-income Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently launched the Colorectal Cancer Control Program. As part of the program launch, the CDC awarded a total of $22 million to 22 states and four tribal organizations for colorectal cancer screening services for people ages 50 to 64 who are uninsured or underinsured.