We Must Eliminate Insurance Disparities in Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in New York. Every year, more than 9,000 New Yorkers across our state are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 3,300 New Yorkers die from the disease. The disease is especially dangerous because it often does not cause symptoms during its initial stages and can slowly spread throughout the body. If detected late, colorectal cancer can be fatal. When detected at an early stage, however, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is about 90 percent.
Colorectal cancer usually starts as a small benign growth called a polyp. It can take up to 10-15 years for a benign colon polyp to become colon cancer. The purpose of colon cancer screening is not only to detect cancer at an early stage, but to actually prevent it from ever happening by identifying and removing these polyps while they are still benign. This is easily and safely accomplished by a procedure called a colonoscopy.
The colorectal cancer death rate has been dropping in recent decades due to increased colonoscopy screening. However, routine screening can be prohibitively expensive for low-income or uninsured individuals. As a result, only 50% of uninsured patients in New York City have had a screening colonoscopy, compared with 70% of patients who have health insurance.
Access to colon cancer screening is a major public health challenge and we, at the Endoscopy Center of New York, believe that no one should be denied access to colon cancer screening due to a lack of financial resources. We have an active Community Outreach Program which provides free colonoscopies for patients who do not have health insurance coverage. Our well-known and highly-respected physicians and staff members are committed to providing personalized and compassionate gastrointestinal care at our comfortable, state-of-the-art facility.
If you are over 50 years old and with no financial resources to pay for colon cancer screening, we urge you to contact us immediately to determine if you are eligible for a free colonoscopy. Our Community Outreach Program is open to all New Yorkers regardless of insurance status.
For more information about our Community Outreach Program, and to check your eligibility for a free screening colonoscopy, contact Yami Colon, coordinator Community Outreach Program at 212-897-1006. The only way to know if you’re at risk for colorectal cancer is to get screened — and the sooner you do it, the better.