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Thursday, January 23, 2020  

Campaign Focuses on Regular Screening to Prevent Colorectal CancerPublished 4/30/2003

Thousands of deaths from colorectal cancer could be avoided if everyone aged 50 or older were regularly screened for colorectal cancer. However, testing for this disease, the nation’s second leading cancer killer, remains underused. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2001, only 53 percent of U.S. men and women aged 50 years or older had received colorectal testing within the recommended screening periods.

"We are still losing too many lives to a disease that largely can be prevented," said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "An estimated 57,100 people will die from colorectal cancer this year in the United States."

To tackle this public health problem, the Secretary today announced the release of new English and Spanish television public service announcements and other materials as part of "Screen for Life: the National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign."

During a program held today in Washington, D.C., Secretary Thompson urged people aged 50 or older to begin having regular colorectal cancer screening tests. "Colorectal cancer is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer deaths among American men and women," Thompson said.

The director of CDC, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, has called on Americans in this age group to have regular colorectal cancer screening tests. "We have evidence that many who are at risk for colorectal cancer are not getting recommended testing despite the fact that regular screening can help prevent colorectal cancer or find it early, when treatment is most effective. The fact remains that screening saves lives," she said.

"Screen for Life" was developed by CDC and its federal partners – the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the National Cancer Institute. The campaign is a multi-year, multi-media effort designed to inform men and women about the benefits of regular testing for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50. The campaign also stresses that Medicare and many other health insurance plans help pay for colorectal cancer screening.

New "Screen for Life" materials include television, print, and radio public service announcements and other materials, including posters, brochures and fact sheets. These materials are specifically designed to educate African Americans, Hispanics, and people with Medicare coverage about the importance of regular screening for colorectal cancer. All of the campaign materials have a common theme – "If you’re 50 or older, get tested for colorectal cancer."

For more information about the "Screen for Life" campaign, or to order materials, visit or call 1-888-842-6355. For information about Medicare coverage of colorectal cancer screening, visit And to learn about colorectal cancer testing, diagnoses, and treatment, call the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

For more information about colorectal cancer test rates, visit

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