Coalition Requests Federal Taskforce Reconsider Colorectal Screening Guidelines

August 28, 2018

Washington, D.C. –  Twenty-two public health and patient advocacy groups submitted a letter to the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) today requesting it reconsider its 2016 colorectal cancer screening recommendation before its currently scheduled review in 2021. The request follows a guideline update from the American Cancer Society (ACS) in May that recommends screening begin at age 45 for people at average risk of colorectal cancer instead of starting at age 50. The updated ACS guideline is based on data that shows increasing rates of colorectal cancer in young and middle-aged populations.

A statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), follows:

“ACS CAN is pleased to join the coalition of public health and patient advocacy groups respectfully requesting USPSTF reconsider its 2016 colorectal cancer screening recommendation. USPSTF has a process that allows for important new data and studies, that were not available at the time of USPSTF’s 2016 screening update, to be taken into consideration immediately rather than waiting for its scheduled review cycle of a guideline. The new studies show an increasing prevalence of colorectal cancer in younger age cohorts; therefore, we hope the Task Force will take this new information into account as we work to give Americans evidence-based, age-appropriate access to preventive care services.

“As the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, ACS CAN has aggressively worked to notify state and federal policymakers, insurance commissioners and other stakeholders about the evidence in support of screening individuals aged 45 to 49. Given that the national health care law references USPSTF screening guidelines for insurance coverage requirements, it is important that the Task Force seriously consider the new body of evidence that exists in support of beginning preventive screening at a younger age. We further urge the Task Force to consider the concept of the screening continuum, and as such if a patient has a positive finding on a non-colonoscopy test, the screening process should not be considered complete until the patient has had a colonoscopy.

“ACS CAN will continue to advocate for coverage of evidence-based cancer screenings and, as it relates to colon cancer, will continue our advocacy efforts in support of screening individuals aged 45 to 49.  As ACS noted in its recent guideline update, there are many effective screening options, and consumers may find certain options are more affordable than others, particularly when faced with potential out-of-pocket expenses. ACS CAN will also continue to emphasize that consumers should understand what their individual insurance policy will cover and what out-of-pocket expenses they may incur should they begin screening at 45, rather than age 50.”



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