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State Law Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Takes Effect

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AUSTIN, TX –Beginning on Wednesday, September 1, Texans 45 and older will have coverage for colorectal cancer screening, per a new state law that updates the age for such lifesaving screenings from 50 to 45 in accordance with United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines released this past May. Most significantly, the recent law also removes out-of-pocket costs for patients needing a colonoscopy following a positive non-invasive screening test, making Texas the latest of just 6 states across the nation to do so. 

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths among men and women combined in the U.S. as well as in Texas and is one of the few cancers that can be prevented through screening.

In 2021, it’s estimated that over 11,000 Texans will receive a colorectal cancer diagnosis and an estimated 4,000 will die from the disease – a number that does not yet reflect the backlog in screenings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – but by increasing access to screening, advocates of the new law hope to decrease these numbers.

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) President Lisa Lacasse

“This law is a prime example of how strong, lifesaving public policy is integral to reducing the burden of cancer. We congratulate Texas for being a leader in eliminating cost sharing for patients needing a follow-up colonoscopy following up a positive stool-based test.

“Everyone should have access to colorectal cancer screenings and lifesaving treatment without financial hardship. On behalf of all families touched by cancer, we appreciate the Legislature and Gov. Abbott for enacting such lifesaving legislation expected to save thousands of lives. We look forward to seeing its impact, particularly among our rural communities and communities of color who experience higher colorectal cancer mortality rates, as well as working with state elected officials to pass public policies that further advance our cancer mission.”

Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) President Anjee Davis

“With this law going into effect, Texas is leading the way in increasing access to colorectal cancer screening. It is more important now than ever that we remove barriers to this life-saving screening and Texas serves as an example to other states of how to take an important step forward in that effort. Fight Colorectal Cancer is grateful to all the incredible colorectal cancer advocates in Texas who worked tirelessly to see this critical legislation become law. This policy will save lives.”

Paula Chambers-Raney, stage 3 colorectal cancer survivor diagnosed at age 44 and Grand Prairie resident

“More and more young people are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. This cancer is treatable and preventable if caught earlier. So lowering the screening age from 50 to 45 will get more people screened, which is a game-changer. Another game-changer is the financial barriers. Removing such a barrier for colorectal cancer screenings is going to save the lives of Texans so that those using the FIT test will not need to worry about a follow-up bill.”

Alex Hernandez, caregiver for his mother who passed from colon cancer and Houston resident

“I lost my mom to colon cancer at a young age, so to know that this law will help prevent deaths like my mom’s is a huge relief. I hope this is just the beginning of decreasing late-stage cases of colorectal cancer in our communities.”

VIDEO/PHOTO:

A video of Paula sharing what the new law means to her and a picture also for utilization can be downloaded here.

A picture of Alex is available for download here.

Background on the Law

A broad coalition of public health groups, including ACS CAN and Fight CRC have spent the last year urging lawmakers to pass this bill in response to American Cancer Society first updating their screening guidelines in 2018.

ACS CAN and Fight CRC thank the primary sponsors of SB 1028 Sen. Joan Huffman and Sen. Judith Zaffirni; as well as Rep. John Smithee for introducing a House version of the Senate bill; and Gov. Greg Abbott for signing SB 1028 into law on June 4th, 2021.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines

ACS updated its guidelines in May 2018 recommending that adults at average risk for colorectal cancer start regular screening at 45 to save more lives, in part due to new data showing rates of colorectal cancer increasing in younger populations.

Colorectal Cancer Data and Background

Approximately 90 percent of all individuals diagnosed with colorectal cancer at an early stage are still alive five years later, meaning a colonoscopy can literally save a person’s life when a polyp is found and removed by stopping any cancer formation in its tracks.

  • Colorectal cancer has a significant burden nationwide and here in Texas where we see significant high rates among rural, Hispanic/Asian communities and those between the ages of 45 to 55 as a result of low screening rates.
  • An estimated 58% of all colorectal cancer deaths nationwide in 2020 were due to non-screening.
  • Colorectal cancer rates are on the rise among young people and dropping among people age 65 and older. During the past 20 years, rates of colorectal cancer fell in people 50 and older, largely because more people were getting recommended screening tests. 

Resources for Texans Over the Age of 45, Now Eligible Under New Law

For more information or to find the nearest screening options, go to www.cancer.org/colon or call 1-800-227-2345.

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