Organizations Commit to Goal of 80% Colon Cancer Testing Rate by 2018

Dozens of health-related organizations are pooling their resources to increase the nation’s colon cancer testing rate to 80% by the year 2018. The National Colorectal Screening Roundtable (NCCRT) officially launched the effort today in Washington, DC. The NCCRT was co-founded by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce colon cancer incidence and death rates.

At the launch, John R. Seffrin, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society, shared new data that show investing in colon cancer testing efforts is saving lives. The data were published today in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. Among the findings: The rate at which people are diagnosed with colon cancer in the US has dropped 30% in the last 10 years for those aged 50 years and older, an age group in which colonoscopy use, one of several tests available, has almost tripled.

However, more lives could be saved if more adults were tested. And there is a lot of room for improvement. In 2010, the most recent year for which numbers are available, only 59% of people ages 50 or older reported being up to date with colon cancer screening. Those less likely to get tested include Hispanics, people with limited English language skills, American Indian or Alaska natives, and people with lower education and income.

According to Richard Wender, MD, Chair, NCCRT and Chief Cancer Control Officer for the American Cancer Society, committing to an 80% screening test rate by 2018 means removing barriers that include cost, transportation, and resistance to what is viewed as an unpleasant procedure. “We need to bring populations with barriers to the same level of screening as populations without those barriers. It can be done if we eliminate the barriers and achieve health equity.”

Part of the 80% by 2018 goal is to combine the resources of public, private, and voluntary organizations in the community to provide health providers, community health centers, and health systems with the tools they need to deliver coordinated, quality colon cancer testing and follow up care to all populations.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
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