Report: More Louisianians at Risk for Colorectal Cancer

Iabaqc66 400x400 300x300BATON ROUGE – According to a new study released by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, while the overall rate of colorectal cancer diagnoses among commercially insured Americans has remained largely steady across all age groups since 2014, there has been a substantial increase in the prevalence of known risk factors for colorectal cancer—including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, Type I and II diabetes and diagnosed obesity—across all generations and especially in the millennial age group.

State-specific data in the report, “Rise in Chronic Conditions Is Putting More Americans at Risk for Colorectal Cancer,” show Louisiana saw significant increases in all three of these major risk factors during the study period of 2014-2018. These increases occurred in both the millennial age group and the group aged 50+, and they reflect the increases in national numbers. But Louisiana’s prevalence numbers are higher than the national average in all three risk factors and both age groups.

In addition, the Louisiana Cancer Prevention & Control Programs reports the state has the country’s fourth-highest death rate from colorectal cancer. Louisiana also has a below-average rate of eligible patients being screened for colorectal cancer. The state is called out in the report as one with a high rate of colorectal cancer and low rate of screening.

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Dr. Jeremy Wigginton, medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, is reminding Louisianians about the importance of screening to catch colorectal cancer in its earliest stages, when treatment is most likely to be successful.

“I know colon health is an uncomfortable thing to talk about, but the conversation could save your life,” Wigginton said. “Talk to your doctor about your family history, any risk factors you have and when you should start testing.”

The U.S. Preventive Health Services Task Force recommends everyone start colorectal cancer screening at age 50. People who have a family history of colorectal cancer or certain other conditions, like colitis, might need to begin screening at younger ages. According to the BCBS report, about 60% of people 50+ and nearly half of people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis aren’t getting screened because of a discomfort with the process or a lack of awareness about the need.

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