The thought of cancer is dreadful for all of us. There are many types of cancers that kill millions, but enormous amounts of money has been spent since President Richard Nixon announced his major initiative. President Obama initiated a program at the urging of Joe Biden.
Billions of dollars have been spent, and yes, America has made a lot of progress in developing new medicines – expensive medicines adding to higher health care costs.
But prevention spending is modest. From time to time, the Centers for Disease Control publicizes prevention initiatives. Three years ago, they started an 80-percent-by-2018 initiative for colorectal cancer. This was a goal set for 2018 – to get colorectal cancer screenings for people ages 50 and older to 80 percent by 2018.
Wisconsin is very close to that goal. A few parts of California have met the goal. The results for dramatically reducing the incidence of colorectal cancer in those counties are remarkable.
Illinois has not met those goals – the state’s results for reducing the incidence of colorectal cancer are dismal.
If you look at Illinois, only 23 counties are close to 60 percent on screening targets. The other counties – south of DeKalb County, including Lee, aren’t even close to a 60 percent screening rate.
What is the reason? Most insurance companies now pay for it.
How is colorectal cancer preventable? All of us have to be careful about colon polyps – growths that can become cancerous.
Lee County residents are at a disadvantage because they do not have enough gastroenterologists. Primary care doctors can not detect and remove a polyp in the colon.
Note to readers: Dr. Tarun Mullick is a gastroenterologist who has an office in Dixon.