Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Colorectal cancer screening saves lives

Good news in our ongoing work to reduce preventable cancer related deaths! 

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the rate of adults developing and dying from colorectal cancer is falling. Colorectal cancer incidence rates decreased significantly in 35 states over a 4-year period (2003-2007).  Maryland realized the largest percentage decrease in incidence (6.5 percent). Mortality due to colorectal cancer dropped 3.1 percent in the state. This is a significant achievement as cancer ranks as the second leading cause of death in our state and in Baltimore City.

Under the auspices of the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund Program, the Baltimore City Health Department coordinates local public health efforts for colorectal (CRC) education, prevention, screening and treatment. Emphasis is on increasing the accessibility of health care services to uninsured and medically-underserved residents.  

The Baltimore City Health Department and the University of Maryland Medical System receive funds to operate cancer screening programs. The department offers CRC screening and treatment through contractual partners, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Union Memorial Hospital and Harbor Hospital.

Our CRC program targets uninsured and under-insured adults, ages 50-75, who live at or below 250% of the poverty line and have a personal or family history of CRC. In its first year the Baltimore City CPEST (Cancer Prevention, Education, Screening, and Treatment) program has completed 210 colonoscopies.

This report affirms the great progress we are making, but also illustrates that there is still much work to be done. Recognizing the severity of this threat, Healthy Baltimore 2015 includes aggressive goals for encouraging early detection of colorectal cancer.

Those people who should be screened more often for colorectal cancer include:
  • All adults 50 to 75 years old.
  • People who are at risk for developing colorectal cancer are those with Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, some genetic disorders, and people with a personal history of polyps or close family history of either polyps or colorectal cancer. They should talk with a health care provider about getting screened at younger ages and/or more frequently and which test is right for them.
For more information about cancer in Baltimore City and the Health Department’s cancer programs, visit

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