HOUSTON, TX – April 27, 2022 – Sen. Judith Zaffirini (SD-21) received the Advocacy in Action award recently, one of the most prestigious awards presented by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), in recognition of her significant contributions to the fight against cancer in Texas, including her leadership this past session in authoring legislation that makes it more affordable for Texans to receive their lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings.
ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, presents the annual award to select lawmakers who demonstrate outstanding leadership in cancer-related public policy.
“Sen. Zaffirini has established herself as a true advocate for cancer patients and their families by championing legislation that is expected to save thousands of lives across the state for one of the most preventable cancers,” said James Gray, Texas Government Relations Director at ACS CAN. “On behalf of all Texas families touched by cancer, we’re so grateful for her steadfast leadership that resulted in a historic measure that eliminated a major barrier that has impeded access to preventive screenings and looks forward to the impact of such a lifesaving law.”
Colorectal cancer screening rates have been dangerously low across the state even prior to the pandemic and incidence rates have been increasing among adults under age 50 and particularly in Black, Latino and rural communities as a result. Under the new law, Texans 45 and older now have coverage for colorectal cancer screenings, lowering the stage age from 50 to 45, and coverage for colonoscopies following a positive non-invasive screening test.
“ACS CAN was integral to our success in expanding cancer screening and coverage options via Senate Bill 1028,” said Sen. Judith Zaffirini. “Because early detection truly has life-or-death consequences, ensuring availability of these services will help Texans live longer, healthier lives. I am delighted to receive the 2021 Advocacy in Action award and look forward to our continued collaborative efforts."
Colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in Texas, despite being one of the few preventable cancers, and it’s estimated that over 11,000 Texans will receive a diagnosis this year.
The bill passed on May 18, 2021, with a unanimous vote by the legislature, mere hours following the announcement of new recommendations by the United States Preventive Services Task Force which too lowered the age to begin colorectal screening from 50 to 45 and became effective on September 1, 2021.