Wicker, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Access to Colon Cancer Screenings

June 22, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., joined his colleagues U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Alex Padilla, D-Calif., in introducing the Colorectal Cancer Detection Act, legislation to increase access to and participation in colon cancer screenings. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, it's expected to cause roughly 53,000 deaths in 2021.

This legislation would increase access to blood-based screening tests to allow people to understand if they are at risk of colon cancer before scheduling a more invasive colonoscopy. Currently, the lack of authorization for reimbursement from Medicare is preventing people from accessing all screening options for colorectal cancer. This bill would address this problem by placing all Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved blood-based screening tests on equal footing with other screening methods and authorize reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

“Colorectal cancer is largely preventable, yet still remains the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States,” Wicker said. “This legislation would increase screening options for Medicare beneficiaries, helping to improve detection among an otherwise unscreened population.”

“Colon cancer is one of the most common diseases in New Mexico, but is actually preventable and treatable when it is found early. Improving colon cancer screening rates helps with early detection and can save lives,” Heinrich said. “This bipartisan bill would make it easier for people to access all screening options for colon cancer, including non-evasive blood-based screening tests.”

“Colon cancer disproportionately impacts communities of color, but we know it is more treatable when detected early. That’s why improving access to colon cancer screenings is so critical,” Padilla said. “Simply put, the Colorectal Cancer Detection Act will save lives by making it easier to access colon cancer screenings for Californians and everyone across the country.”

The Colorectal Cancer Detection Act seeks to authorize blood-based screening tests for CMS reimbursement and remove this potential barrier to screening. By increasing access to, and participation in, screening programs, thousands of colorectal cancers which may otherwise go undetected could be found, and thus save lives.