March was Colon Cancer Awareness Month

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month kicked off with “Dress in Blue Day” on March 2nd, an annual program initiated 3 years ago by the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) to bring attention to colon cancer and to commend those fighting the disease. Participants in blue included some community groups, businesses and individuals. All in all, the month resulted in manifold nationwide and local successes. We’ve rounded up a list of highlights relating to Colon Cancer Awareness Month here.

Lackluster Colon Cancer Statistics

Results compiled from clinical gastroenterology studies in months past suggested that Americans scheduled fewer colonoscopy screenings during this year than during the 2 years prior. Even when doctors referred colonoscopies, high co-payment and co-insurance costs kept many patients from following though with the procedure.

Those due for routine colonoscopy checks could talk to their primary care providers to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. They could also refer to online communities like ours designed to connect them to local GI doctors. Colonoscopy.com and Gastroenterology.com, two online communities of medical education, news and user inquiries to GI practices, are connecting patients to local doctors who can perform colonoscopy screenings. The two resources also offer medically reviewed health articles and aim to inform the public of the importance of maintaining a healthy digestive system.

A colonoscopy can detect and remove adenoma (pre-cancerous polyps) from the large intestine before growths turn malignant. Low-risk patients are supposed to get screened once every 10 years after turning 50. Doctors in the network have said that colonoscopy is the only procedure that can prevent in addition to screen for colorectal disease. During a colonoscopy, chronic inflammation and other conditions causing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are also examined.

Widespread Efforts to Increase Successful Colon Cancer Screenings

National Calls to Action—Gastroenterology societies such as the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) took Colon Cancer Awareness Month to rev up their healthcare efforts on Capitol Hill. Members of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) teams up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create programs offering free colonoscopy to patients without adequate health insurance in 7 states: Arizona, California, Nevada, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida and Colorado.

In addition, this week March 26-30 the AGA is promoting a congressional call-in event in order to push for a bill entitled the “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2012,” which is designed to waive copayments for patients with Medicare who are currently required to pay extra if a polyp is detected and must be surgically removed during their routine colonoscopies. Partners in support of the bill include the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Fight Colorectal Cancer and the ASGE.

Moreover, we saw praiseworthy attempts on a local level to get those colon cancer screening statistics up to the recommended numbers. Local GI doctors offered free colonoscopy clinics as well as spoke at public events promoting the colon cancer awareness and the effectiveness of getting screened early. These doctors included hospital workers and private practitioners. Online, YouTube users and other Internet fans posted videos and blog posts about colon cancer and why colonoscopy is so important, including one charming music video/eCard created by Dr. Mache Seibel and HealthRock Publishing, which was featured on in the Huffington Post’s Healthy Living blog yesterday.

The Prognosis

So far few policies have been erected to lower the out-of-pocket costs associated with a regular colonoscopy screening. But now that the economy is picking up again, online health networks hope to see statistics rise to the recommended levels. If you need to see a gastroenterologist about a colon cancer screening, then feel free to look through the medical directory on Colonoscopy.com to find one listed near you. The website offers general information reviewed by medical professionals and features a Q&A option, free of charge, for online users who want to ask a doctor specific questions.