Early Detection Saves Lives

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Early Detection Saves Lives

Cancer is a scourge that affects all of us in some way – it’s the second leading cause of death globally, and the American Cancer Society estimates that cancer will take the lives of more than 600,000 Americans this year alone. Nobody has ever said, “thank goodness we caught this late.” It’s not the way cancer treatment works. Identifying cancer earlier leads to better health outcomes for patients, but we often don’t catch enough cancers early enough. Today, only five out of hundreds of cancers have recommended early detection screenings. That means nearly 75% cancer deaths are caused by cancers without available early screenings.

But there are new cancer detection tests working their way to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process that are expected to change the way we screen for and then ultimately treat cancer.

Multi-cancer early detection – or MCED – technology takes advantage of recent advances in the study of the human genome and uses computing power to identify multiple cancers through a single blood draw – which could be incorporated seamlessly into the blood work patients receive at regular checkups. By identifying cancers earlier, before the cancer can spread to other parts of the body, MCED can help improve treatment outcomes.

Through robust clinical trial programs, these technologies have shown their ability to identify many of the deadliest cancers before they metastasize. This is a new category of cancer screening and provides us with a new weapon in the War on Cancer.

Put another way: this could be the beginning of the end of cancer as we know it.

The only problem is that it could take up to a decade or longer for Medicare to cover this new screening category unless Congress acts like it has consistently in the past for other cancer screenings. Luckily, a bipartisan group of forward-thinking legislators has introduced the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act of 2021, which would modernize Medicare to help ensure coverage of this innovative technology for our most vulnerable.

We are proud to join more than 300 leading cancer advocacy organizations across the country, urging Congress to pass this critical legislation. H.R. 1946 would allow Medicare beneficiaries to access MCED soon after the FDA has approved the tests currently in development.

Since the signing of the National Cancer Act, when the War on Cancer was declared 50 years ago, MCED could be the breakthrough technology we have long sought. This innovative cancer detection technology gives us hope that we will find a way to beat this deadly disease so more patients can say “thank goodness we caught this early.”

Learn more about the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Act here. Join the conversation on social media using #earlydetection.

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