Colorado bill would require insurance to cover colorectal cancer screenings beginning at age 45
Scott Wilson was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer at the age of 48.
A bill recently introduced at the Colorado legislative session has garnered Wilson’s support, as it would require health insurance carriers to cover preventative colorectal cancer screenings for both average-risk men and women beginning at the age of 45 as opposed to 50.
“I think it’s safe to assume that if I had been diagnosed at 45 rather than 48 I would have at least been early stage,” Wilson, a survivor advocate with the Colorado Cancer Coalition, said. “It may have been prevented altogether.”
Colon cancer and rectal cancer often get grouped together due to their commonalities.
According to the Colorado Cancer Coalition, treating colorectal cancer in its early stages leads to a 90% survival rate.
However, individuals diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer, like Wilson, have an approximately 10% survival rate according to the Colorado Cancer Coalition.
“When they say survival rate, that means surviving five years beyond diagnosis,” Wilson said. “I am 29 months into that journey.”
House Bill 20-1103, which Rep. Perry Will (R-New Castle) sponsored, would provide preventative health insurance coverage for screenings in accordance with the American Cancer Society’s guidelines.
The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals with an average risk of developing colorectal cancer begin regular screenings at age 45.
However, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s guidelines, which state law currently adheres to, recommends screening for colorectal cancer beginning at 50.
“Our argument is that the American Cancer Society’s guideline is a more up-to-date and more recently based on science guidelines,” Wilson said.
In 2018, the American Cancer Society released updated guidelines concerning colorectal cancer screenings, recommending screenings at 45.
In addition to adopting the American Cancer Society’s updated age guideline, the bill would also mandate coverage of a follow-up colonoscopy should the initial medical test or procedure come back as being abnormal.
In 2020, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be over 104,000 new colon cancer cases and more than 43,000 new rectal cancer cases in the U.S.
The American Cancer Society also estimates over 53,000 deaths as a result of colorectal cancer will occur in 2020.
“All the evidence is there to say, ‘We need to catch these cases earlier,’” Wilson said.
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