The American Cancer Society (ACS) has predicted a significant rise in colorectal cancer (CRC) cases this year. The disease is projected to cause a staggering 52,280 deaths in 2022.
CRC is the third leading cause of cancer death in America for both men and women. However, it is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults ages 45 and older get screened regularly for the disease. The most effective way to screen for CRC is through a colonoscopy, which can detect cancers in early stages. Therefore, it may prevent them from progressing to more serious forms.
It is reported that more than 200,000 Americans missed a scheduled colonoscopy appointment since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. The ACS is now working with healthcare providers and public health systems to raise awareness of the importance of screening. This can reduce death rates from CRC by as much as 90-percent.
The coronavirus outbreak in 2020 has prevented a significant amount of people from scheduling or attending their routine screenings. Several healthcare providers have implemented stepped-up screenings for CRC in response to COVID-19. This concerning report from the ACS comes after a significant increase in advanced-stage CRC was identified in 2021. A rise in late-stage diagnosis along with precancerous polyps in adults of all ages has been seen compared with figures from 2020.
Treatment for CRC depends on both the individual and the stage of the disease. However, in all cases early detection is key. Individuals with risk factors for CRC, including family history, should talk to their health care provider about colon cancer screening.
Increasing numbers of GI physicians are now turning to alternative healthcare approaches to reach patients. A 2022 report from Doximity has shown that gastroenterology has become the adult specialty with the second highest level of telehealth usage. Telehealth and other innovative forms of healthcare could also prove useful in response to rising CRC rates in America.
For people who might have limited access to healthcare providers, telehealth is a great way to access vital care. With an increased prevalence of GI conditions across the United States, telehealth can support physicians in empowering patients to seek preventative screening for CRC.