AUSTIN, TX — April 5, 2021 — The unpredictable and dynamic nature of COVID-19 is no match for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network's (ACS CAN) volunteers' steadfast commitment. Cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers from across Texas traveled virtually to the state capitol last week to meet with over 60 Texas lawmakers about the need to address the high colorectal cancer mortality rates in the state with life-saving legislation.
“While the pandemic means we cannot meet in person, cancer hasn’t stopped and neither have we,” shared Nancy Neel, ACS CAN State Lead Ambassador. “Texas Cancer Action Week is an opportunity to tell our legislators that we are counting on them to continue to help save lives from cancer by making it easy and affordable for Texans to receive lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings. I spoke with lawmakers on how important such legislation is, particularly now following the massive backlog in screenings caused by the pandemic.”
Despite being preventable if screened, colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in Texas. The American Cancer Society Colorectal Cancer Screening guidelines state that a follow-up colonoscopy in this situation should be completed without any cost to the patient as an integral part of the preventative screening process – a fact not currently reflected in our state law.
Half of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented each year if every individual age 45 and older received their recommended colorectal cancer screenings. Unfortunately, too many Texans fail to do so due to a major financial barrier. Another alarming reality is that many put off their potentially lifesaving cancer screenings due to the pandemic, and experts anticipate an increase in late stage cancer diagnosis and deaths as a result.
“The bipartisan bills in the legislature would eliminate cost-sharing for preventive colorectal cancer screenings for those ages 45 and over, including follow-up colonoscopies,” noted James Gray, Senior Government Relations Director for ACS CAN in Texas. “More Texans getting screened will result in fewer cases of cancer, reduced costs of treating the disease, and most importantly, fewer needless deaths from a disease that is easily detected and prevented.”
An estimated 11,280 Texas residents will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year and more than 4,000 will die from the disease, numbers that have yet to reflect the effects of the pandemic.
To learn more about ACS CAN in Texas, visit www.fightcancer.org/tx.
About ACS CAN at 20
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting www.fightcancer.org.