Colorectal Cancer Screenings for People without Health Insurance

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that 26 states and tribal organizations will receive funds to provide free or low-cost colorectal cancer screenings for people who have no or inadequate health insurance. Screenings should begin in about six months.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer (excluding skin cancers) diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. An estimated 106,100 new cases of colon cancer and 40,870 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States are predicted for 2009. The lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 19. Only half of all adults in the United States aged 50 or older have been screened for colorectal cancer. Screening rates for people who have health insurance are higher than for those without insurance.

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The colorectal cancer screenings will be available without charge or for a small fee for low-income individuals aged 50 to 64. Detection of colorectal cancer in its early stages is critical because that’s when it is most treatable. People without health insurance typically do not seek screening, and so those who have cancer are usually not diagnosed until the late stages. Funding to the states will support screening and diagnostic follow-up care, data collection and tracking, provider education, public education and outreach, and an evaluation of the program. The awards range from $358,283 to $1.1 million.

The five-year awards are going to 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. Also receiving funds are the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Arctic Slope Native Association, South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency, and Southcentral Foundation. Individuals age 50 or older who have no or poor health insurance coverage can get more information about the CDC colorectal cancer screening program at the Center's web site.

SOURCES:
American Cancer Society
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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