ALBANY, N.Y. (March 30, 2022) – The New York State Department of Health reminds New Yorkers that screening is available for colorectal cancer as new data from the Department’s 2020 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) suggest an overall increase in screening among New Yorkers ages 50-75, but much lower rates for those aged 50-54 and those without health insurance or a healthcare provider.
Based on estimates from the 2020 BRFSS, 76.6% of NYS adults ages 50 to 75 years received the recommended colorectal cancer screening. However, much lower screening rates were seen among those without insurance (49%), those without a health care provider (46.2%) and among those in the 50-54 screening age group (59.2%).
“Colorectal cancer screening is essential to cancer prevention, and it is available for all New Yorkers, regardless of type of health insurance coverage or whether or not you have a healthcare provider,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “Screenings are covered by Medicaid and all plans participating in the NY State of Health Marketplace, and the NYS Cancer Services Program covers screenings for the uninsured and underinsured. Several safe and easy screening options exist to encourage early detection, including take home tests. Everyone age 45 and over should be screened.”
Last year, national recommendations for when to start screening changed from age 50 to 45 for people at average risk for colorectal cancer.
National and New York State data show that 9 out of 10 colorectal cancer cases happen in adults aged 45 and older. With screening rates already significantly lower in New York for the younger screening age group (50-54), it is critical to improve screening rates among the 45- to 54-year-olds.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among New Yorkers. Getting screened regularly, beginning at age 45, improves the chances that colorectal cancer is found early when there is a higher rate of survival. Regular screening may also prevent colorectal cancer because precancerous polyps can be found and removed before they turn into cancer.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have experienced delays in cancer screening because of temporary office closures, fear of getting COVID-19, and backlogged appointments. Delays in cancer screenings may lead to an increase in later diagnosis and deaths.
Studies also show that giving patients a choice of screening test increases the likelihood that the patient will complete the screening. And as a physician’s recommendation can significantly improve cancer screening rates, healthcare providers are encouraged to talk with patients about screening before age 45 to encourage on time screening.
For more information about screening in New York State visit New York’s Cancer Services Program.
For more information about colon cancer see Don’t Wonder If You Have Colon Cancer, Know (NYSDOH) and Colorectal Cancer (CDC).