You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Congress must invest in colon cancer prevention

The Hill logo The Hill 3/13/2018 Reps. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Opinion Contributors

a close up of a device © Provided by The Hill The United States can and must improve the mortality rate of colorectal cancer. Robust federal research funding is essential to preventing and treating the disease.

Colorectal cancer is America's silent killer. The disease often has no warning signs or symptoms, and it affects more than 140,000 men and women each year. Despite being largely preventable with screening and treatable if caught early, more than 50,000 people in the United States die from colorectal cancer each year.

The United States can and must improve the mortality rate of colorectal cancer. Robust federal research funding is essential to preventing and treating the disease. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) support first-in-class medical research that serves as the foundation for life-changing - and life-saving - discoveries.

Federal investment in the NIH and NCI has led to breakthroughs in immunotherapy, giving many colorectal cancer patients new and more effective treatment options. In one recent study, researchers from NCI used advanced genomics to harness one colorectal cancer patient's own immune cells to shrink her tumors. She now has no sign of cancer, and the knowledge gained from her treatment will help countless other patients.

The science that led to these discoveries has been developed over the course of the past decade. These things don't just happen overnight. Scientists need stable, consistent and robust funding to ensure that we can continue these breakthroughs for the colorectal cancer community and beyond.

Screening is another important focus. If caught early, colorectal cancer is preventable. Yet it is still the second leading cause of death for men and women combined. We must do better.

Our bill, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, fixes a glitch in Medicare that is a major deterrent to seniors getting screened. Currently, Medicare covers screening colonoscopies at no cost to the patient, but if polyps are removed during the screening procedure, beneficiaries are suddenly saddled with unexpected costs. This makes no sense.

Thanks to the determination and commitment of the colorectal cancer community, our bill has over 240 bipartisan co-sponsors. Thousands of advocates have taken multiple actions to get this support. We continue to advocate for the legislation among our colleagues, and we hope this will be the year we can push this bill over the finish line!

We have made tremendous progress. From advancements in treatment to increased screening rates to having over half of the House of Representatives as co-sponsors on our bill, there is much to be proud of.

But there is also more work ahead. We must build on the great work that has been done thus far - the advances in science, the gains we have made in awareness and prevention. Colorectal cancer does not need to be a deadly disease. Each March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time when Fight Colorectal Cancer organizes the colorectal cancer community to celebrate progress made and energize for the work still ahead. By raising awareness, promoting regular screenings, and funding NIH and NCI research, we can save lives.

Payne represent New Jersey's 10th District and Dent represents Pennsylvania's 15th District.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Hill

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon