This is a letter to the editor that I am posting in several Pennsylvania newpapers. Other states may have pending legislation, but if you live or have relatives in PA pass this on.
As February fades away and the calendar turns to March, I would like to educate everyone that March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal Cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women and presently ranks number two as the cancer killer.
According to the American Cancer Society, 90% of all colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed in men and women over 50. The ACS recommends all people who turn age 50 to discuss colorectal screening with their family doctor. If you have a family history of colorectal disease, the ACS recommends that you get tested 10 years earlier than the family member’s diagnosis. For example, if a parent or sibling was diagnosed at age 40, you should be screened near you 30th birthday.
Survival rates among people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are good if detected early. One and five-year survival rates for all stages are 83 and 67 percent and 58 percent after 10 years. If the diagnosis is localized to the colon and caught early the five year rate of survival dramatically jumps to 90%, however only 39% of diagnoses fall in this category. Most of the time only surgery is needed without chemotherapy and radiation treatments if the cancer is localized to the colon. The cost of chemotherapy for stage II colon cancer in 2003 was over $50,000.
On July 1st of this year, all insurers will be required to cover mammograms according to ACS guidelines. Senate Bill 635 would require insurance companies to cover colonoscopies according to ACS guidelines. SB 635 currently sits in the banking and insurance committee and has bipartisan support with 60 percent of state senate sponsorship. This committee is headed by Senator Gibson Armstrong (R-13) of Lancaster and York Counties. As a taxpayer of Pennsylvania, you can contract Senator Armstrong the following ways and ask him to support this bill by moving it through his committee. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
. You can call him at his district office at 717-397-1309 or his Harrisburg Office at 717-787-6535. In the event of his being in session, ask for his chief of staff, Mr. Chris Latta.
Through education and legislative initiative we can increase survivorship among people diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Central Susquehanna Valley Colon Cancer Task Force