2012-01-27 20:04:06 UTC

The Scope of Screening Selflessly: A Collaborative Effort

Jan. 27, 2012


Carla Ginsburg, MD, MPH, AGAF

Dr. Ginsburg is chair-elect of the AGA Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. However, if diagnosed at an early stage, the five-year survival is more than 88 percent.1 Data from the CDC suggests that 63 percent of Americans aged 50 to 75 years are screened, with more than 22 million adults estimated to be untested.1, 2 Unfortunately, the prevalence of screening for certain segments of our population is much lower, such as for those without health insurance, persons with lower income and non-Caucasians (36 percent, 48 percent and 50 percent, respectively).1

With this in mind, the CDC established the Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP) in 2009. Through a competitive process, 25 states and four tribal organizations received awards totaling $27 million dollars. The goals of the program include increasing CRC screening prevalence to 80 percent in those funded states and, subsequently, reducing CRC incidence and mortality. One component of the CRCCP is to offer no-cost screening to eligible low-income, un- and underinsured individuals.

The AGA is extremely fortunate to partner with the program service branch in the division of cancer prevention and control of the CDC to plan a national CRC screening and awareness event, March 29-31, 2012. This partnership, involving the CRCCP and AGA members from across the country, will link CRCCP-eligible patients with volunteer gastroenterologists who will perform pro-bono colonoscopies.

The overall goal of our joint effort is to raise awareness of the importance of CRC screening and provide screening colonoscopies to members of the population who could not otherwise afford them. More than 20 states and tribal regions are participating in this event, and many of our members will be selflessly volunteering their time in this collaborative effort.

A national colon cancer screening event links several strengths of the CRCCP — reaching the underserved, patient navigation and diagnostic follow-up — with the strengths of the AGA: the altruism and services of gastroenterologists throughout the country. This all leads to enormous benefits for patients.

It is our hope that this event will raise awareness across the country of the need for
CRC screening, reinforce the fact that no person should be denied access to a lifesaving procedure because of lack of insurance, and ultimately play a role in impacting important legislation. 

This unique partnership provides a great opportunity for our members to volunteer their services with access to many patients in need, and at the same time extends the reach of the CRCCP. The scope of screening selflessly in our collaborative effort is now effortless.

Dr. Ginsburg is chair-elect of the AGA Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee.

1. CDC. Vital Signs: colorectal cancer screening among adults aged 50-75 years-United States, 2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2010;59:1-5.
2. CDC. Vital Signs-Cancer screening, colorectal cancer. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/CancerScreening/indexCC.html. Accessed Oct. 27, 2010.

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