Colorectal cancer deaths are down in US

New data revealing decreasing trends in cancer deaths in the United States overall, and in colorectal cancer deaths in particular, highlight the remarkable benefits of colorectal cancer screening tests, but the lifesaving potential of these tests is unrealized for many Americans, according to experts from the American College of Gastroenterology.

Racial minorities, uninsured Americans and even Medicare patients who should be tested are not being screening appropriately, and other recent studies reveal that they are diagnosed with more advanced cancers compared to patients with private insurance.

Today, the American Cancer Society reported a downward trend in cancer deaths between 2004 and 2005. Deaths from cancer of the colon and rectum decreased from 1998 to 2004 among both men and women, according to ACS. The report attributes early detection to this sharp decline in colon cancer deaths. Early detection of colorectal cancer, when it is most treatable, directly results in improved survival, exceeding 90 percent when detected at the earliest stage.

According to ACG President Amy E. Foxx-Orenstein, D.O., FACG, “The good news is that colorectal cancer deaths are down, but marked differences in the experience of colorectal cancer, its impact on quality of life, and death rates are seen between whites and blacks, and between the uninsured, and even those with health coverage under Medicare and Medicaid.” According to Dr. Foxx-Orenstein, “The American College of Gastroenterology is committed to national policy changes to improve access to colorectal screening and increased use of these proven prevention strategies, including reversing Medicare’s massive cuts to reimbursement for these tests since the benefit was first introduced, as well as to payments in ambulatory surgery centers where many screening tests are performed.”

Colorectal cancer is the number two cancer killer in the United States, affecting men and women equally. However, with screening and early detection, many of these deaths can be prevented. Most colorectal cancers develop from polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon. Left undetected and free to grow, some polyps may develop into cancer. Screening tests can find and remove pre-cancerous polyps before they turn into cancer.

Source: American College of Gastroenterology, USA

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