On March 18, Ohioans from around the state will leave their hometowns and head to the Statehouse in Columbus. These volunteers for the American Cancer Society will carry a message that is vital to people of all ages: Ohioans should have access to life-saving colorectal cancer screenings through their insurance policies.
Many of those volunteers will represent Lucas County. Anne Creech, Shirley Dwyer, Prescilla Hutchens and Dr. Michael Stark, all of Toledo, are advocacy volunteers for the American Cancer Society. They have committed their time and energy to working for changes in public policy that will help reduce the impact cancer has on Ohioans. The volunteers will be supporting two pieces of legislation introduced by Rep. Eugene Miller (D- Cuyahoga), and Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls), the chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Aging. Each bill would require insurance companies to cover the full range of colorectal cancer screenings.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Ohio. This year, an estimated 6,500 Ohioans will be diagnosed and 2,500 will die from this disease.
With proper screenings, colorectal cancer is curable, even preventable. The survival rate is nearly 90 percent when colorectal cancer is caught early and treatment costs are low. Additionally, recent statistics show that death rates from colorectal cancer are declining as more and more states continue to successfully pass laws requiring insurance companies to cover screening costs.
“Screening rates in states with coverage laws have risen 40 percent faster than the rates in states without such laws. Ohioans deserve to join the 26 other states that have passed comprehensive colorectal cancer screening legislation,” said Terry Carey, the Northwest Ohio Regional field director for the American Cancer Society.
In spite of availability, colorectal cancer screening is dramatically underutilized. According to the 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, just 50 percent of Ohioans 50 and older had a colonoscopy within the past five years. The cost for covering colorectal cancer screenings is lower than other well-accepted screening tests, such as the mammograms.
“The evidence is clear. Access to screenings will provide Ohioans the lifesaving coverage they need while directly reducing health care costs,” said John Hoctor, Chief Government Relations Officer for the American Cancer Society. “When colon cancer is detected early, the treatment costs are around $10,000 and the patient has an excellent chance of survival. Treatment in the latter stages of the disease, however, can cost upwards of $100,000.”
The American Cancer Society and its partners in the fight against colon cancer applaud Senator Coughlin and Representative Miller for taking this important first step by introducing these critical legislations. People who want to join the call for colorectal screening coverage can call 1-800-ACS-2345.