This is a guest post by Kristen Nichols Heitman, MPH, an epidemiologist in the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in the National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She received a Master of Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in epidemiology from Georgia State University.
80% by 2018 is a public health initiative, launched by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) in 2014, in which over 1,000 organizations, including BioIQ, have committed to reducing colorectal cancer as a major public health problem. Together, these organizations are working toward the shared goal of screening 80 percent of American adults between the ages of 50 and 75 by 2018. According to the NCCRT, If this goal is met by 2018, 277,000 fewer people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 203,000 lives will be saved by 2030.
In a recently published study, researchers found this goal is obtainable, based on updated colorectal cancer screening data. The study sought to estimate two factors: the number of colonoscopies needed to screen 80 percent of the eligible population with fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) or colonoscopy and whether there was sufficient colonoscopy capacity in the United States to meet the need. Using a microsimulation screening model, the study determined that healthcare facilities in the U.S. have the capacity to reach this goal by 2018.
“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer for men and women in the U.S., but it doesn’t have to be,” said Djenaba Joseph, MD, MPH, medical director of the colorectal cancer control program at CDC and lead author of the paper. “Screening saves lives. The good news is that our modeling shows that the U.S. healthcare system has the potential to meet our national goal of screening 80 percent of adults ages 50-75. Ask your doctor about screening – there are several options now.”
This goal is important because colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and this is why following colorectal screening guidelines are so important, especially for adults ages 50 to 75. When adults are regularly screened, colorectal disease can be prevented through the detection and removal of precancerous polyps. Regular screening can also detect cancer at an early stage when treatment is most effective and the costs are significantly less.
In addition to in-office visits, there are now convenient at-home testing options. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening using the following methods:
- High-Sensitivity Fecal Occult Blood Test, also known as a stool test (once a year)—use chemicals or antibodies to detect blood in the stool. BioIQ offers this non-invasive test, which can be conducted at home.
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (once every five years)— a doctor inserts a flexible, lighted tube into the rectum and checks for polyps or cancer inside the lower third of the colon.
- Colonoscopy (once every ten years) – a doctor uses a flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers.
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors’ affiliated institutions.