CRC screening before Medicare age could save millions in federal health-care dollars

Oct 06, 2008

A screening program for colon cancer in patients starting ten years prior to Medicare eligibility, at age 55 instead of Medicare's 65, would save at least two dollars for every dollar spent, according to a new study presented at the American College of Gastroenterology's 73rd Annual Scientific Meeting in Orlando.

As people get older, their risk of developing polyps and colorectal cancer increases. Current guidelines recommend a screening colonoscopy for average risk individuals beginning at age 50. But for many uninsured Americans, a lack of health insurance coverage poses a barrier to screening. Medicare coverage for most Americans begins at age 65, creating a coverage gap.

In order to determine the effect of a lack of health coverage on screening and the cost effectiveness of screening uninsured patients, Dr. Jianjun Li and colleagues from Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn offered free colonoscopies to 248 consecutive patients (mean age 55) as part of a colorectal cancer screening program. Nearly 45 percent of patients had polyps. Five patients had early stage colon cancer, and 22 patients had polyps larger than 1 cm. These large polyps are felt to have a greater risk of harboring or developing into colorectal cancer than smaller polyps. The screening program cost a total of $390,000.

The researchers concluded that had these patients not been screened, and the cancers and polyps allowed to progress undetected—assuming the cost of treatment and screening would be delayed until the Medicare eligibility age of 65—the estimated costs would be $1,295,000.

"Our study highlights the cost effectiveness and the lifesaving potential of a federally funded screening program for the uninsured ten years before they are eligible for Medicare," said Dr. Tenner.

Source: American College of Gastroenterology

Explore further: Anal, throat cancers on the rise among young adults, study finds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hoverbike drone project for air transport takes off

1 hour ago

What happens when you cross a helicopter with a motorbike? The crew at Malloy Aeronautics has been focused on a viable answer and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support its Hoverbike project, "The ...

Study indicates large raptors in Africa used for bushmeat

1 hour ago

Bushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates ...

'Shocking' underground water loss in US drought

2 hours ago

A major drought across the western United States has sapped underground water resources, posing a greater threat to the water supply than previously understood, scientists said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Clearing cells to prevent cervical cancer

4 hours ago

A study published online in the International Journal of Cancer earlier this month describes a novel approach to preventing cervical cancer based on findings showing successful reduction in the risk of cervical cancer after ...

Is Europe putting cancer research at risk?

8 hours ago

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), the leading pan-European association representing medical oncology professionals, has expressed concern that the proposed EU General Data Protection Regulation could make ...

User comments : 0