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Colorado Underinsured Receive Free Colon Cancer Screenings

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Colorado Colorectal Cancer Screening Program plans to screen more than 800 underinsured and 3,200 uninsured Coloradoans for colorectal cancer in the coming year, thanks to renewed and expanded funding from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease and Pulmonary Disease Grants Program.

Since its inception in 2006, CCSP has screened 8,150 people, found and removed precancerous nodules from 1,945 people and detected 80 cases of colorectal cancer. Last year alone, the program screened 3,015 people, 752 of whom had adenomas and 30 were diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death among men and women. It is the only cancer type that can be prevented and cured through screening.

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Holly Wolf, PhD, CCSP program director, said the program aims at decreasing the colorectal cancer rate in Colorado by providing screening for uninsured people over age 50 who fall at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. With the expansion, certain people who meet the age and financial criteria and have insurance may be eligible for the program-paid screening.

“Some people have insurance, but the co-pay, coinsurance or deductible they’d need to pay to get a colonoscopy is too high for them to afford the screening test,” Wolf said. “Starting this month, our program will pay for the cost of the colonoscopy, and, if needed, the person’s insurance company will provide coverage for any follow-up treatment.”

The program has also recently expanded into south central Colorado through a new partnership with San Luis Valley Medical Center’s Carefree Colon Program.

“The Carefree Colon Program has done an excellent job during the past three years screening about 150 people per year,” Wolf said. “Together, we should be able to double that number.”

CCSP will also become the care provider for Colorado ’s Centers for Disease Control demonstration program for increasing the number of people screened for colorectal cancer each year.