Impact To Black Lives:
As we all continue to reel from the loss of Chadwick Boseman, it is imperative for us, now more than ever, to be aware of the fact that colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year, 147,950 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer —and 53,200 people will die from it. But the disease does not affect all racial and ethnic groups equally.
Colorectal cancer disproportionately impacts the Black community, where the diagnosis and death rates are the highest of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S. African Americans are about 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it than most other groups. African Americans have the highest incidence of colorectal cancer among patient segments, with nearly 20,000 cases diagnosed annually. Once again, 15 to 20 percent are more likely to die from the disease than patients of any other race.
Screening Blood Test:
The FDA-approved blood DNA test (Epi proColon) is intended for people who refuse other colorectal cancer screenings. The sample can be collected anywhere blood is drawn and performed with other blood work.
At a recent University of Miami health fair, it was noted that screening rates for colorectal cancer increased from 10% with a stool test to 95% with a blood test. That is how well a blood test is welcomed. In addition, a recent National Cancer Institute publication concluded that FDA- approved Epi proColon is the ‘Test of Choice’ for patients refusing colonoscopy and stool testing. Other than colonoscopy, annually administered Epi proColon performed better (decreased cases and deaths per chart) than all other screening methods. Most notably, Epi proColon is much better than “No Screening.”
Cost and reimbursement of any screening test is important to its acceptance and adoption. However, Medicare is proposing to NOT pay for ‘Test of Choice’ blood test. Yes, you heard that right. Medicare does NOT want to pay for the test which has the best performance, is the easiest to perform, and which is intended for the unscreened population – the segment which is most at risk of colorectal cancers.
Importance of Screening:
If discovered early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable. There is a 90% recovery rate when the disease if caught early (before symptoms present) versus only 15% at later stages (typically, with symptoms). This disease is ravaging the Black community. It is as important as ever that everyone is receiving the recommended screenings. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, screening tests remain available, test that can make the disease more treatable by finding it at an earlier stage. Colorectal cancer screening, aimed at preventing cancer by finding it early, has proven effective in saving African American lives.
There are many screening methods, including colonoscopy, stool testing, and even a blood test (complete list below). Based upon the many methods, there is no reason for people not to get screened, but the fact is that that 1 in 3 African Americans remain unscreened for colorectal cancer.
- Fecal Immunochemical Test
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
- Multi-targeted Stool DNA (Cologuard)
- Pill Cam
- Computed Tomographic Colonography
- Blood DNA (Epi proColon)
YOUR Voice Is Important:
We need YOUR help. Medicare is requesting comments regarding the reimbursement inclusion of the FDA-approved blood test. Click on the link below and join Black Health in telling Medicare why screening matters and why a blood test will get people screened and save lives!!! Your voice could save a life, leave Medicare a Comment!
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