Published on March 15, 2022
In 1999, the Prevent Cancer Foundation led the charge to have March designated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month by the White House and both houses of Congress. Now, more than 20 years later, the important work of reducing colorectal cancer diagnoses and deaths continues. We are grateful that President Biden recognizes the importance of raising awareness of this disease and officially designated March 2022 as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
Colorectal cancer disproportionately affects the Black community, where the rates are the highest of any racial/ethnic group in the US. African Americans are about 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it than most other groups. Increasing access to screenings, like the recently expanded coverage for colonoscopies when needed as a follow-up to a non-invasive colorectal cancer screening test, is essential to reducing disparities in colorectal cancer prevention and early detection.
During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the Prevent Cancer Foundation encourages people to start screening at age 45 if you’re at an average risk. If you have certain risk factors, you may need to start screening sooner or get screened more often–talk to your health care provider to determine the best course of action for you. If you’ve put off scheduling your colorectal cancer screening during the pandemic, find a provider and get your appointment Back on the Books today.
On February 10, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an update to its lung cancer screening eligibility guidelines for people covered by Medicare to more closely align with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations. The CMS update means more Americans will be eligible to receive lifesaving lung cancer screenings at no cost. CMS will lower the recommended screening age from 55 to 50 years (it goes up to 77 years) and reduce criteria for tobacco smoking history from at least 30 pack-years to 20 pack-years. (A “pack year” is the equivalent of smoking one pack per day for a year). The expanded Medicare recommendation aims to address racial disparities associated with lung cancer, given evidence that one third of patients who are Black are diagnosed with lung cancer before age 55. Women will also benefit from the expanded screening eligibility, as lung cancer diagnoses have risen 84% among women over the past 42 years while dropping 36% among men over the same period.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation has long been an advocate for lung cancer screening and commends CMS for expanding access to screening. Still, the Foundation urges CMS to go even further by including additional risks for lung cancer in the eligibility criteria, such as environmental tobacco smoke and risks not related to tobacco, such as occupational exposures and exposure to radon. Implementing theses changes would go further in expanding access to screening and reducing lung cancer health disparities for Black people and women.
Friday, March 4, is International HPV Awareness Day. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection and nearly all sexually active men and women get one of the many strains of the virus at some point. HPV is spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex, and you can contract HPV from an infected person who has no symptoms. Most HPV infections clear up within two years, but some strains can cause cancer. Fortunately, a vaccine exists to protect against HPV-related cancers.
The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites that more than 45,000 cases of HPV-related cancers are diagnosed each year. HPV is linked to at least six types of cancer, with cervical cancer being the most well-known. Other cancers linked to HPV included vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal and oropharyngeal (back of throat) cancers.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation seeks to improve access and education for HPV-related cancer prevention. In addition to supporting federal legislation, the Foundation recently conducted an environmental scan to identify states with low uptake rates of the HPV vaccine within Hispanic communities, specifically among adolescents and young adults. Learn more about our findings and recommendations.
Prevent Cancer Foundation is a proud supporter of Obesity Care Week (OCW) 2022. OCW is our chance to change the way we care for–and about–obesity. Being overweight or obese is linked to an overall increased risk of cancer. According to research from the American Cancer Society, excess body weight is thought to be responsible for about 11% of all cancers in women and about 5% of cancers in men in the United States, as well as about 7% of all cancer deaths. Despite extensive research and studies, stigma and misperceptions continue to negatively shape the way people with obesity are treated medically. From advocating for expanded access to obesity care to ending weight bias, OCW aims to raise awareness, educate and advocate for a better world for people living with obesity. To learn more about Obesity Care Week an sign up for alerts, visit ObesityCareWeek.org.