Prevention in Action: Senate bill on multi-cancer early detection coverage, new colorectal cancer screening guidelines and more

Published on May 28, 2021

Prevention in Action | Advocacy news for cancer prevention & early detection

Prevent Cancer Foundation supports Senate introduction of the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act of 2021

The Prevent Cancer Foundation applauds Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) for the introduction of the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act of 2021 (S.1873), which will enable access to innovative multi-cancer screening technologies for America’s seniors once these tests are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

This bipartisan legislation recognizes emerging advances in our nation’s fight against cancer by ensuring Medicare can make coverage decisions for new, innovative tests that could detect multiple types of cancer before symptoms develop. 

Multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests use a blood test and our vast understanding of the human genome to help patients and their health care providers to test for multiple types of cancer, with the hope of finding cancer early, before it has spread to other parts of the body. Early cancer detection is needed beyond the five cancer types for which routine screening and national guidelines already exist: breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer (for those at high risk) and prostate cancer. 

The House version of this bill, H.R. 1946, currently has 34 cosponsors representing both parties. We encourage Senators from every state to sign on as a cosponsor of the legislation and quickly move to remove barriers to multi-cancer screening technologies for America’s seniors.

Not familiar with multi-cancer early detection testing? Join us for our annual Advocacy Workshop: A Patient-Centered Approach to Multi-Cancer Early Detection Testing to be held virtually on June 17. 

More people under age 50 now have access to colorectal cancer screening 

On May 18, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) finalized their new recommendations for colorectal cancer screening, giving a “B” recommendation for screening people of average risk ages 45-49. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to fully cover any screening or early detection services rated an “A” or “B” by the USPSTF. As a result, this recommendation will increase access to colorectal cancer screening for those ages 45-49.

As previously reported, prior to this change there was no recommendation for colorectal cancer screening for this age group, and insurance companies were not required to cover colorectal cancer screening services under age 50. The USPSTF maintains its “A” rating for screening those of average risk ages 50-75.

Recent years have revealed an alarming trend of increased colorectal cancer cases in people younger than 50, known as “young-onset” colorectal cancer. Incidence rates of young-onset colorectal cancer cases have increased by 2% each year since 1990, and the median age of diagnosis dropped from 72 to 66.

In a video released in March 2021 in partnership with the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) shared his personal experience with young-onset colorectal cancer in support of dropping the recommend screening age to 45.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation celebrates the change in screening guidelines to enable access to screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 45. This change will save lives.

For more information on young-onset colorectal cancer, visit Too Young For This Sh*t.

Prevent Cancer Foundation supports the Reducing Hereditary Cancer Act

Under existing Medicare guidelines, only a person with “signs, symptoms, complaints, or personal histories of disease” meets the criteria for coverage of medical services, including cancer screenings. In recent years, Congress has passed legislation mandating coverage of certain routine cancer screenings, mostly for people at “average risk” of cancer (e.g., mammograms, colonoscopies and PSA tests). 

To address this issue, the Prevent Cancer Foundation is supporting the upcoming introduction of the Reducing Hereditary Cancer Act, legislation that will change the Medicare statutes. As recommended by expert medical guidelines, it will enable coverage of genetic testing for inherited mutations known to significantly increase cancer risk in two Medicare populations: those with a known hereditary cancer mutation in their family as well as those with a personal or family history suspicious for hereditary cancer.

For Medicare beneficiaries who have an inherited mutation causing an increased risk of cancer, the legislation will enable coverage of expert-recommended:

  • Increased cancer screening or change in type of cancer screening (e.g. breast MRIs, more frequent colonoscopies)
    Risk-reducing surgeries (e.g. removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes)
  • The Reducing Hereditary Cancer Act is slated to be introduced in June. Visit the FORCE website for more information on this important policy issue. 



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