Cancer Screenings Save Lives

Mar 29, 2013

Colon cancer is a highly preventable disease, yet every year, hundreds of West Virginians die from colon cancer, mainly because they were diagnosed too late to prevent the cancer from spreading. West Virginians have some of the highest colorectal cancer mortality rates in the country. This is an unacceptable tragedy and loss that we can prevent.

In February, I, and 79 of my fellow Members of Congress, sponsored legislation to designate March 2013 National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 140,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and as many as 50,000 will die. Although it is highly preventable, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Cancer screening should be a part of everyone’s preventative health care regime, especially for seniors. More than 90 percent of colorectal cancer cases occur in people over 50 years old. West Virginia has one of the oldest populations in the country, so it is especially important for our seniors to be diligent in utilizing prevention screening.

Throughout my career as your Representative in Washington, I have championed legislation giving greater access to preventative health care for our families and seniors. Colorectal cancer screening is no different.

In the 113th Congress, I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1070, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening, a bill that will increase access for preventative care by waiving the coinsurance for colorectal cancer screening tests, thereby covering 100 percent of the cost of screening for Medicare Part B beneficiaries. Not only does this save Medicare and Medicaid money by preventing cancer from developing, with early detection and elimination of polyps that are the precursors to cancerous cells, it saves precious lives.

In fact, by investing in preventative colorectal cancer screening, we can save billions in unneeded treatment costs. Every year in the United States, roughly $14.1 billion is spent on treatment for colorectal cancer. Comparatively, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spend $43 million on preventative screening and education.

We, as West Virginians, understand the need to take responsibility for our lives and our bodies. Diligently preventing disease is part that self reliance and personal responsibility. By screening for this preventable disease, the billions of dollars we can save annually now reduce the financial burden on generations of West Virginians to come.

Cancer is a horrible disease that, in one form or another, has affected all of us. We need to continue to work hard to prevent developing the disease. As a Member of Congress, I will continue to fight for more cancer research funding, greater access to cancer prevention screening and more quality treatment options for the people of West Virginia.

For more information, please visit:  http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) represents West Virginia’s 3rd District

For more information contact: Diane Luensmann (202) 225-3452

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