Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month 2023: What Can Pennsylvania Do to Address Rise in Colorectal Cancer Diagnoses?

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Proposes Plan to Reduce Toll of Colorectal Cancer in Pennsylvania

March 28, 2023

HARRISBURG, PA – MARCH 28, 2023 – At the start of Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Awareness Month, the American Cancer Society (ACS) released their report “Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2023-2025,” which found that colorectal cancer is rapidly shifting to more advanced disease and younger individuals, with incidence of advanced disease now in 3 in 5 people and 1 in 5 diagnoses in people younger than 55. In 2023, an estimated 6,610 Pennsylvanians will be diagnosed with CRC, and 2,280 are expected to lose their battle with the disease. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) has developed a proposal that aims to improve access to precision medicine for patients with cancer and other diseases by expanding access to biomarker testing, which gathers information about a person’s own body to prevent, diagnose or treat disease.

ACS CAN urges state leaders to support efforts to ensure that Pennsylvanians who could benefit from biomarker testing have access to it, including those with CRC. A person’s zip code or economic status should not determine their ability to successfully fight cancer. ACS CAN’s proposal would require all state-regulated health plans, including Medicaid, to cover comprehensive biomarker testing for patients when supported by medical and scientific evidence.

For Lisa Selan, biomarker testing proved to be a critical resource when she was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. The results of Lisa’s testing unlocked the door to certain targeted therapies, which were key in her reaching remission last year.

“My treatment was directly informed by the results of my biomarker testing. Without it, my treatment plan would’ve looked a lot different; not only in the sense that new treatment opportunities became available, but I gained an optimism that’s been invaluable as I navigate life as a mom, wife and friend with a chronic illness.,” says Lisa. “Biomarker testing doesn’t just help the person who receives the testing; because of the key role it plays in clinical trials and the development of targeted therapies, biomarker testing benefits all cancer patients.”

Insight gained from biomarker testing can be used to help guide medical treatment in CRC as well as other cancers and diseases. Biomarker testing is often used to connect patients with targeted treatments that can improve quality of life and survivorship. Biomarkers can also open the door for cancer patients to participate in clinical trials, which advance new cancer treatments and have the power to improve outcomes. Ensuring that every Pennsylvanian who needs biomarker testing has access to it will unlock treatment opportunities for more residents and ideally, increase survival rates among patients, including those with CRC.

ACS CAN Pennsylvania Government Relations Director Donna Greco says, “We have made significant strides over the years in the treatment of colorectal cancer thanks to biomarker testing. This innovative testing opens the door to targeted therapy for cancer patients, which has not only led to improved quality of life but also has the potential to reduce costs throughout the Commonwealth, by matching patients with the most effective treatment for their disease earlier. Expanded biomarker testing is the next step for Pennsylvania.”

ACS CAN maintains resources on colorectal cancer prevention, detection and treatment. For more details, visit



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 improves the lives of people with cancer and their families. 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 advanced proven tobacco control measures. We’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers to end cancer as we know it, for everyone. Join the fight by visiting

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Casey O'Neill
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager