Colonoscopy rates on the rise, officials target the uninsured

April 29, 2014 2:04:19 PM PDT
The number of New Yorkers receiving potentially life-saving diagnoses has soared over the past decade with the city colonoscopy rate jumping from 42 percent in 2003 to 69 percent today, according to data from the New York City Community Health Survey.

Additionally, the number of New Yorkers screened for colon cancer doubled from 826,000 in 2003 to more than 1.6 million in 2012.

Health officials emphasize the importance of colonoscopies, as early diagnoses can significantly increase the likelihood of patients' survival.

"Colon cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable," said Dr. Clare Bradley, Board President for the American Cancer Society. "It's actually one of the only cancers that can be stopped before it starts through recommended screening.

In spite of the encouraging numbers, the American Cancer Society maintains that more work has to be done.

As a result, the ACS announced a new initiative called the NYC Community Cares Project to provide free colonoscopy screenings for uninsured patients.

Only half of uninsured city residents are up to date on colon cancer screenings.

"While there have been significant gains in screening our uninsured community, we are redoubling our efforts to address this persisting inequality," said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

The data also reveals that the racial inequality for colonoscopies of a decade ago has been eliminated.

Although in 2003 there were major gaps between the screening rates of whites, Asians, African-Americans and Hispanics, those gaps have since been closed.

To reduce your risk of colon cancer, medical experts suggest:

1. Get Checked.
2. Don't smoke.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
4. Exercise regularly.
5. Eat a diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables

For more information on where to go for colon cancer screening please call 311 or search for "Colonoscopy" on