Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State is expanding its efforts to prevent colorectal cancer, the state’s second leading cause of cancer death. Over five years, $8 million in federal grants will go toward new screening initiatives that will be administered by the New York State Department of Health. Each year, nearly 10,000 New Yorkers develop colorectal cancer and more than 3,000 die as a result, however with regular screenings, many of these diagnoses and deaths can be prevented.
"Early detection is the key to successfully fighting this form of cancer and this funding will go a long way toward educating New Yorkers on the benefits of early screening," Governor Cuomo said. " I thank our federal partners for helping secure this funding and helping make this a stronger, healthier New York."
Colorectal cancer screenings look for small growths or ‘polyps’ that could turn into cancer. Most colon cancers start from these small growths, but if found through screening they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Early stage colorectal cancer may not always cause symptoms, making regular screenings the key to early detection.
This 5-year grant, awarded from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will support the expansion of screening efforts by the Department of Health’s Bureau of Chronic Disease Control in traditionally underserved and high need areas in the North Country, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and New York City. The first component provides $732,400 per year to support work with Federally Qualified Health Centers and Medicaid Managed Care Plans for evidence-based interventions that promote regular colorectal cancer screenings. This includes providing feedback to providers about patients eligible for, but not up to date with screening, sending patient reminders and implementing strategies to reduce barriers like transportation assistance and paid time off for cancer screening. Specific organizations slated for funding are yet to be determined.
The second component provides $915,500 per year to target eligible uninsured and underinsured residents between the ages of 50 and 64 years in the Bronx, an area identified as having an elevated level of late-stage colorectal cancer cases. In addition to providing funding for the screening tests, this grant will support patient navigators at three key New York City Health and Hospital Corporation health facilities, all serving the uninsured in the Bronx: Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, North Central Bronx Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center. The use of patient navigators has been shown to be a highly effective strategy for removing barriers and facilitating screening completion.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Colorectal cancer is a killer that continues to take the lives of far too many New Yorkers. Early detection is the key to beating this terrible disease and this grant helps ensure some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers have access to the screenings that help detect cancer.”
Congressman Charles B. Rangel said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo in spearheading efforts to help New Yorkers detect and fight against colorectal cancer. Very often, people do not know how to combat cancer in concrete terms until they or a loved one has been diagnosed. With more federal funding, New Yorkers can receive critical resources to help prevent and treat the disease. Increasing accessibility of cancer screenings is an investment that will not only save lives but also cut costs."
Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, said, "Every March, I make it a priority to highlight 'National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month' to educate my constituents in Westchester and the Bronx about preventative measures that can be taken to beat this deadly disease. As frightening as colorectal cancer is, the truth is that with proper screenings, it can often be detected early on, thus greatly improving treatment options for patients. The federal funds allocated to strengthen colorectal cancer screenings will help thousands of New Yorkers who currently do not have access to these vital screenings, and I am particularly pleased that aiding the uninsured and underinsured in the Bronx will be a huge component of this initiative. I applaud Governor Cuomo and his team for making the expansion of these screenings a major priority for New York State."
Congressman José E. Serrano said, “This federal funding with help prevent and address the high incidence of colorectal cancer in New York, especially in underserved areas. I am glad to see that a significant amount of this funding is going to the Bronx, where statistics show there is an elevated number of late-stage colorectal cancer cases. Early detection through regular screening is key to preventing and treating what is oftentimes a silent killer.”
Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, “Colorectal cancer impacts nearly one in 20 American adults, but early screening and education are key to prevention and treatment. The federal grants announced today will help thousands of people access screening for colorectal cancer and will help save many lives. I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership in promoting cancer screening and his efforts to fight cancer in underserved populations across the entire State of New York.”
Congressman Gregory W. Meeks said, "Colorectal cancer claims the lives of thousands of New Yorkers every year, but these new grants ensure that we are better equipped to provide early detection and screening services to our communities which could save lives. We must all do our part in the fight against cancer and in doing my part, I will continue to push for programs such as this in Congress until we find a cure."
Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Catching cancer early on is critical for success in fighting the disease. These federal grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help provide New Yorkers with the affordable, quality preventative care they deserve and encourage us all to be proactive in battling cancer.”
Both components support the objectives outlined in the New York State Prevention Agenda 2013-2017 and the New York State Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan, as well as the Department of Health’s work to achieve an 80 percent colorectal cancer screening rate by 2018. Funding levels for both components beyond the first year are contingent upon the availability of federal funding.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer can include having blood in the stool, stomach pain with changes in bowel movements, or losing weight unexpectedly. New Yorkers with any of those symptoms should speak to their physician immediately.
All New Yorkers age 50 and older should get screened for colorectal cancer. Those with a personal or family history of colon polyps, colon cancer, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease are at a higher risk. These individuals should talk to their doctors about when to begin screening and how often they should be tested. If colorectal cancer is found early, treatment can be very effective. In addition to regular screenings, all New Yorkers, regardless of age, can reduce their risk for colorectal cancer by quitting smoking or never starting, maintaining a healthy diet, limiting alcohol use and increasing their physical activity.
Individuals who have insurance, including Medicaid and insurance through health plans participating in the NY State of Health, can obtain colorectal cancer screening by talking to their physician.
For individuals without insurance, DOH’s Cancer Services Program offers colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screening to eligible individuals in every county in the state. To find a local Cancer Services Program near you, visit http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/services/community_resources/ or call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262).