The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded a total of $22 million to 26 states and tribal organizations to provide colorectal cancer screening services for low–income people aged 50–64 years, who are underinsured or uninsured. The awards range from $358,283 to $1.1 million. The awardees are expected to begin screening patients for colorectal cancer within six months.
The states receiving five–year awards 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 receiving awards are: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Arctic Slope Native Association, South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency, and Southcentral Foundation.
The funding will support screening and diagnostic follow–up care, data collection and tracking, public education and outreach, provider education, and an evaluation to measure the clinical outcomes, costs, and effectiveness of the program. The awardees can choose from among any of the recommended screenings for colorectal cancer – colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy and stool testing.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women aged 50 and older in the US.
“Colorectal cancer kills more people than any other cancer except lung cancer,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “These colorectal cancer screening awards will save lives. We need to reach more adults aged 50 and over and others at high risk to prevent colorectal cancer.”
In 2005, more than 141,000 new cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed and 53,000 people died from this disease. The number of new colorectal cancer cases could be reduced by as much as 90 percent if all precancerous polyps (abnormal growths in the colon or rectum), were identified using screening tests and removed before they become cancerous. However, only half of all U.S. adults aged 50 or older have been screened appropriately for colorectal cancer, and while screening rates are slowly increasing, disparities still exist. Screening rates remain higher for whites compared to all other races, for non–Hispanics compared to Hispanics, and for people with health insurance compared to those with no health insurance.
“Screening tests can detect colorectal cancer at its earliest stages, when it is most treatable,” said Laura Seeff, M.D., medical director of CDC’s colorectal cancer screening program. “This screening program has tremendous potential to address the disparities that exist in colorectal cancer screening and to save lives.”
The goals of CDC’s colorectal cancer screening program are to increase population–level screening among all persons aged 50 and older in the participating states and tribes, and to reduce health disparities in colorectal cancer screening, incidence and mortality.