The power of physician advocacy


February is National Cancer Prevention Month. With approximately 4.8 million new cases and 3.4 million deaths worldwide annually, GI cancers represent roughly a quarter of the global cancer incidence and over a third of all cancer-related deaths, according to one study.

In this month’s issue of GI & Hepatology News, we feature timely content relevant to prevention and early detection of GI cancers, which remains a central focus of our clinical and endoscopic practice as gastroenterologists. This includes important studies that demonstrate the value of upper endoscopy in reducing GI cancer mortality, illustrate the potential promise of artificial intelligence in improving early detection of gastric cancer, and link adenoma detection rate to long-term survival in patients who undergo CRC screening with flexible sigmoidoscopy. We also report on a focused update from the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on colorectal cancer, which thoughtfully reviews the data supporting a shift in the age of initiation of average-risk CRC screening from 50 to 45 years.

Dr. Megan A. Adams

Dr. Megan A. Adams

On the policy front, AGA and its partners have worked tirelessly for many years to eliminate financial barriers to colorectal cancer (CRC) screening through national advocacy efforts. These efforts resulted in closure of the so-called Medicare “colonoscopy loophole” through legislation included in the COVID-19 relief bill – as a result, out-of-pocket costs for patients undergoing a screening colonoscopy that results in polypectomy are disallowed as of January 2022. The Biden Administration recently issued guidance in January in response to multisociety advocacy efforts: Private insurers must provide coverage without cost sharing for a follow-up colonoscopy after a positive stool-based CRC screening test for plan or policy years starting on or after May 31, 2022. Removing these financial barriers to care is particularly critical to efforts to improve CRC screening rates among medically underserved communities.

These achievements highlight the power of physician advocacy in inspiring policy changes that directly improve the health and well-being of our patients. I encourage you to visit the AGA website to learn how you can contribute to ongoing advocacy efforts.

Megan A. Adams, MD, JD, MSc
Editor in Chief

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