Colorado advocates in the fight against cancer are heralding a new piece of legislation that would lower the screening age for colorectal cancer from 50 to 45.
House Bill 1103 would require insurers to cover a colonoscopy or other medical test or procedure for colorectal cancer, as well as follow-ups for high-risk individuals, in accordance with American Cancer Society guidelines.
The Colorado Cancer Coalition and the Cancer Action Network of the American Cancer Society are behind the bill, which is scheduled for its first hearing Jan. 29 before the House Health and Insurance Committee.
The Cancer Network's R.J. Ours called the bill an update to existing laws prompted by changes to medical guidelines and evidence about the growing risk to younger people.
“By updating the law, we can save more lives by finding colorectal cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be successful and by detecting and removing polyps, which contributes to the prevention of colorectal cancer,” he said in a statement.
The bill is sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Pro Tempore Janet Buckner of Aurora, Republican Rep. Perry Will of New Castle, with Democratic Sen. Rhonda Fields of Aurora and Republican Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson.
Buckner said it's about saving lives and money, because treating early is better and cheaper than treating it late.
"Increasing access to screening for Coloradans aged 45-49 will save lives and reduce late-stage healthcare costs, and I am pleased to sponsor this critical cancer initiative,” she said.
The Colorado Cancer Coalition said colorectal cancer is the fastest growing diagnosed cancer for young women in this state, the deadliest form of cancer for men younger than 50 nationally, and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths for all Coloradans.
“As a survivor of young onset stage IV colorectal cancer, I know effective screening at 45 would have had a real impact on my life, in all likelihood preventing a late stage diagnosis and the high associated costs — physical, mental and financial,” Scott Wilson, who was diagnosed at 48, said in the press release.
Dr. Debra S. Dyer, chair of the Colorado Cancer Coalition, said evidence indicates the changes of a 45-year-old being diagnosed with colorectal cancer today are the same as they were for a 50-year-old 30 years ago.
"We urge lawmakers to support preventive screening legislation, which will have a significant impact on our mission to reduce the burden of cancer in Colorado,” she said.