Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island pledges “80% by 2018:” 80 percent of adults 50 and older screened for colorectal cancer by 2018


PROVIDENCE, RI – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has pledged to help increase colorectal cancer screening rates by supporting 80% by 2018, a National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) initiative through which organizations nationwide have committed to substantially reducing colorectal cancer as a major public health problem by working toward the shared goal of 80% of adults aged 50 and older being regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. BCBSRI is currently the only health insurer in the state to have signed the pledge.

The vast majority of cases of colorectal cancer occur in people age 50 and older. While colorectal cancer incidence rates have dropped 30 percent nationally over the last 10 years among this population, the disease is still the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths, despite being highly preventable, detectable and treatable. Through proper colorectal cancer screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths - called “polyps” - in the colon, before they become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether.

“Colorectal cancer is a major public health problem, but we have found that many adults 50 and older aren’t getting tested because they don’t believe they are at risk, don’t understand that there are testing options or don’t think they can afford it,” said Katherine Dallow, MD, vice president of clinical affairs and quality at BCBSRI. “Blue Cross signed the 80% by 2018 pledge to help raise awareness that there are several screening options available – even take home options. Colorectal cancer in its early stages usually has no symptoms, so everyone 50 and older should get tested. It could save your life.”

BCBSRI members who receive routine, preventive colorectal cancer screenings generally pay no cost share, including polyp removal and facility fees. This includes alternative at-home stool tests as well.

Led by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80% by 2018 aims to leverage the energy of multiple and diverse partners to empower communities, patients and providers to increase screening rates. The 80% by 2018 initiative consists of health care providers, health systems, communities, businesses, community health centers, government, non-profit organizations and patient advocacy groups who are committed to getting more people screened for colorectal cancer to prevent more cancers and save lives.

If the participating organizations can achieve the nationwide goal of 80% by 2018, approximately 277,000 cases and 203,000 colorectal cancer deaths would be prevented by 2030.

Any BCBSRI members with questions about preventive colorectal screening are encouraged to call the benefits department at 401-459-5000 or toll-free at 1-800-639-2227, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8:00 a.m. to noon.

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