Recently, Dr. Subhasis Misra and his family visited my office in Washington, D.C. Dr. Misra works at the Texas Tech University School of Medicine in Amarillo. There he performs advanced surgery for many different types of cancer. During his visit, we discussed colorectal cancer (CRC).
CRC is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States, and it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women combined. The American Cancer Society estimates that 9,680 new CRC diagnoses will be made in Texas this year, and there will be 3,520 deaths due to CRC. Nationally, 50,000 Americans a year die from the disease.
There is some good news, though. According to the Center for Disease Control, if everyone from 50 to 75 years of age had regular screening tests, at least 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided. When found and treated early, the five-year relative survival rate for those diagnosed with CRC is about 90 percent. That is why it is so important for those of us in that age group to get screened regularly.
There is also a bipartisan effort in Congress to help in the fight against CRC. I recently signed on to the “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act,” H.R. 1220, which corrects a catch-22 in current law.
Seniors on Medicare are not currently charged coinsurance for the colonoscopy procedure, but if a polyp, which can cause cancer, is discovered during the screening and removed, the senior could have to pay between $100 and $300. Removing polyps found during screenings is standard procedure but also triggers a change in the classification of the service provided from a “screening” service to a “therapeutic” or “diagnostic” service under Medicare’s billing codes.
H.R. 1220 would fix this problem, and make it easier for doctors and patients to fight CRC. I appreciate all the work that Dr. Misra and his colleagues are doing to advance this cause and make us all healthier. I invite you to learn more about their efforts by visiting http://nccrt.org/about-colorectal-cancer/.
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As always, I appreciate hearing from you.