Routine screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 45 can save lives, yet it remains the second deadliest cancer in the U.S., as approximately one-third of at-risk adults have not taken this vital step. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a four-year pilot program that provided approved screening tests to those without adequate insurance coverage. Based on the success of the pilot program, Congress provided funding to create the Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP).
This CDC program works with clinics, hospitals, and other health care organizations to implement strategies that have been proven to increase the screening rate. The CRCCP funds intervention programs targeted to the unique needs of each community. Strategies as simple as provider and patient reminders have demonstrated success in screening compliance. Other programs address structural barriers to screening, such as offering screening in non-clinical settings, providing transportation, simplifying paperwork, and extending clinic hours.
An example of these community-based programs is the Wheeling Heath Right, a free clinic in West Virginia for patients with low incomes. Patients at the clinic had a horrendously low screening rate of 9%. By conducting a survey, the clinic discovered that patients strongly disliked the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) used at the clinic because they couldn’t eat certain foods for a time. The clinic instituted the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and created a reminder system. Over a two-year period, the clinic’s screening rate went from 9% to 67%.
The West Virginia clinic is just one example of the types of work supported by the CRCCP. As with other programs at the CDC, the continuation and expansion of this work will be based on Congress appropriating the funding for FY 2023.
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is requesting that Congress provide $50 million next year for this vital work, but we need your help. Please let your Representative know that you care about saving lives by increasing the screening rate through the work of the Colorectal Cancer Control Program at the CDC. Below is a sample email you can send. Your Representative’s website will have an easy way to send a message, or you can find the their address at House.gov.
Colorectal cancer can largely be prevented with timely screening, yet it remains the second deadliest cancer in America. Today, one-third of at-risk adults have not taken the life-saving step of getting checked. We need to expand the work the CDC is doing to get more Americans screened for colorectal cancer.
As a voter in your district, I am asking that you support a $50 million appropriation for the Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP) at the CDC for FY 23. This program has a proven track record of success and expanding it will increase the screening rate and save lives!
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