The release of a recent legislative report card underscored the importance of participation in colon cancer education and awareness events. A coalition of organizations including the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) released a report in February which graded each state on legislation requiring insurance providers to cover the cost of recommended preventative screening procedures. States earning above average grades were those which require insurance providers to cover tests for policy holders aged 50 and over, and those under 50 at high risk.
According to screening guidelines provided by the American Cancer Society, AGA, America College of Gastroenterology and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy these tests may include:
- Colonoscopy screenings every 10 years
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy or double contrast barium enema screenings every five years
- Fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year
- FOBT or FIT plus a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years.
Twenty six states, including eight of the nine Get Your Rear In Gear states received passing grades on the report card. Minnesota, which received a C grade, recently pushed legislation through the Senate Health, Housing and Family Security Committee to help residents of that state gain greater access to affordable screening procedures. To see how your state fared read the full report.
The coalition suggested taking the following steps to demand action in your community:
- Reach out to legislators. Log on to www.nccra.org to find contact information for your local decision makers. Send an email or make a quick call if you don’t like your state’s grade.
- Talk to your employer. Ask if their health plan covers colorectal cancer screening, and if not, encourage them to consider it.
- Contact your insurance provider. Understand what screenings your policy covers and what it does not.
- Check in with family and friends. Share this report (at nccra.org) with them and encourage them to talk to their doctor about getting screened.
Education about colon cancer prevention is making a difference. But as this report card indicates, there is still work to be done both nationally and in local towns and communities. For a complete list of Get Your Rear In Gear events across the country or to learn how to organize an event in your town go to coloncancercoalition.org.