Michigan Joins National Effort to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates

Contact: Angela Minicuci 517-241-2112

For Immediate Release: March 26, 2014

LANSING – In Michigan, there were 4,489 cases of colorectal cancer in 2010, and 1,765 people died as a result of the disease. Many of these cancer cases and deaths may have been prevented by colorectal cancer screening. That’s why this month the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) joins the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) in calling for increasing colorectal cancer screening rates to 80 percent by 2018.

Currently, there are 23 million Americans eligible to be screened for colorectal cancer who are not getting tested. In 2012, 69.4 percent of Michigan adults age 50 and older reported appropriate colorectal cancer screening. In order to improve these numbers, the NCCRT recently launched the “80% by 2018” campaign to increase current testing rates to 80 percent by 2018 in recognition of March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

“National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity for us to raise awareness surrounding the importance of early detection and to discuss the different testing options,” said James K. Haveman, Director of the MDCH. “We have made great strides in the fight against this disease, and joining the national effort to increase our screening rates can greatly impact the prevention and lifesaving interventions that can reduce our colorectal cancer rates.”

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States. And while its results can be deadly, the disease is often treatable and in some cases preventable through early detection. There are several options when it comes to testing. The three main tests – colonoscopy, stool-based tests (fecal occult blood test and fecal immunochemical test), and sigmoidoscopy – are all effective at finding cancer in its early stages.

Generally, two out of three adults who have never been tested for colorectal cancer have a regular doctor and health insurance that would cover the test. Additionally, under the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans cover recommended preventive services, including colorectal cancer screening for adults aged 50 to 75, at no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.

Colorectal cancer risk increases after age 50, or if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or pre-cancerous polyps, talk with your healthcare provider about starting testing before age 50. Many cases of colorectal cancer have no symptoms, especially early on, when it can be prevented or more effectively treated.

For more information about NCCRT’s “80% by 2018” initiative, visit www.nccrt.org/can-we-get-80-percent. For more information about the tests that are available or colorectal cancer prevention, visit www.michigan.gov/cancer.

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