Let’s recommit to fighting colorectal cancer

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 20, 2015

To the editor:

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the country.

This year alone, an estimated 1,460 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in Mississippi, and nearly 640 will die from the disease.

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Compounding the tragedy is the fact that colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer.

Currently, Medicare fully pays for routine colonoscopies for the purpose of screening. But if a polyp is found and removed during the procedure, the colonoscopy is categorized as a diagnostic exam, and the patient must pay a share of the cost. This loophole, which applies only to Medicare beneficiaries, can leave a patient with a bill that could be as much as $500 out of pocket.

The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act in Congress would ensure seniors have the same access to colorectal cancer screening as others. I want to thank Congressman Bennie Thompson for co-sponsoring this legislation last Congress and encourage him to support removing this barrier to screenings again. We could potentially save thousands of lives, reduce suffering and reduce cancer costs in Medicare.

Pearl Carter

Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network