Published on August 5, 2022
The Prevent Cancer Foundation is committed to ensuring everyone can access preventive services and essential care. At the Foundation’s 2022 Advocacy Workshop: Cancer screening disparities in the LGBTQ+ community, experts highlighted the unique barriers the LGBTQ+ community faces when accessing health care. To continue this commitment, the Prevent Cancer Foundation recently announced its support of 10 projects dedicated to increasing cancer prevention and early detection in LGBTQ+ communities across the U.S., from Palm Springs, California to New Hyde Park, New York. The projects were selected through a competitive grants process and each program will receive a one-year, $25,000 grant. The projects focus on increasing education, risk reduction and screening for breast, cervical, colorectal, liver and HPV-associated cancers including anal and cervical, in the wake of mass screening postponements and cancellations due to COVID-19. These projects will have a direct impact on members of the LGBTQ+ community, many of whom lack access to cancer prevention and early detection services.
On July 25, the Prevent Cancer Foundation and 18 other advocacy and industry leaders joined Fight Colorectal Cancer at the White House to discuss a shared response to the President’s call to action to improve and increase access to colorectal cancer screening, with a special emphasis on reaching the underserved and the 44 million people who need to be screened. Colorectal cancer community leaders urged the White House for a plan to get more people screened and address the inequities in colorectal cancer screening.
Although colorectal cancer is preventable with timely screening and highly treatable if caught early, one in three people are not up to date with colorectal cancer screening. This was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic?. A January 2022 survey conducted by the Foundation found that one-half of Americans who had a scheduled in-person medical appointment missed, postponed and/or cancelled one or more of these appointments over the past two years. Despite the availability of several safe and effective colorectal cancer screening options, colorectal cancer remains the number two cause of death for men and women combined, with communities of color experiencing even higher incidence and mortality rates.
On July 7, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released proposed changes to the 2023 Medicare program that, if finalized, would eliminate cost sharing for colonoscopies after a positive non-invasive screening test, and lower the minimum age of colorectal cancer screening to 45. Lowering the minimum age of coverage from 50 to 45 and providing coverage of medically indicated follow-up colonoscopies with no cost sharing is consistent with the 2021 United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) colorectal cancer screening guidelines. The proposal would also ensure that Medicare’s coverage provisions are consistent with private and Medicaid expansion plan requirements.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation celebrates the proposed policy changes and supports increasing access to screening for colorectal cancer. Finding cancer early provides the best chance for effective treatment and a better quality of life for patients and their loved ones.
As shared above, the proposed CMS policy also builds on President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot proposal to ensure equitable access to screening and prevention, particularly for colorectal cancer. The Administration’s focus on removing barriers to cancer prevention and early detection advances health equity within rural communities and communities of color that are especially impacted by the incidence of colorectal cancer.