After the 50-year-long fight against cancer, new technologies are beginning to open a new front in detecting cancer earlier, when they can be better treated. Sens. Bennet (D-CO) Crapo (R-ID), Cardin (D-MD), and Scott (R-SC) recently reintroduced S. 1873, the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act, in the Senate, which would allow Medicare to cover Multi-cancer early detection (MCED) technologies as soon as the FDA approves them. This bipartisan Congressional effort exhibits how much promise these technologies have, supports efforts to make these technologies available to patients, and reinforces action to drive policy that keeps pace with medical innovation.
MCED technologies combine advances in the study of the human genome and computing power to identify trace cancer cells in the bloodstream through a noninvasive blood draw to identify more than 50 deadly cancers early with a high degree of accuracy. Later-stage cancers make treatments and procedures more difficult, and more expensive. MCED technology detects dozens of cancers early which can help improve treatment outcomes, especially for patients who have a type of cancer without an available early screening.
Cancer is trending to the top cause of death globally, affecting nearly everyone in some way. While there have been incredible advances in treatment and detection technologies, most cancers are still caught after they’ve spread throughout the body. Nearly 75% of cancer deaths are caused by cancers that lack recommended early screenings, and only five cancers have recommended screenings. As MCED technologies work their way through research and development, and the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process, we’re watching a paradigm shift take place in the cancer detection space.
This could be the beginning of the end of cancer as we know it – with one caveat. Without congressional action, it could take a decade or longer for Medicare to cover these new cancer screenings. That’s why the Chronic Care Collaborative signed a letter urging Congress to pass this legislation with more than 300 other cancer advocacy organizations.
As the leading voice for Coloradans living with chronic diseases and their caregivers, the Chronic Care Collaborative appreciates Senator Bennet’s leadership in sponsoring this important legislation. Because many cancers end up becoming a chronic condition, the advancement in MCED technologies will be a critical step forward for many of our member groups. Plus, access to multi-cancer early detection technologies could help close the disparity gap and save lives.
“This is an exciting and game-changing advance in the war on cancer and we thank Senator Bennet for his leadership,” said Sara Froelich, Executive Director of the Colorado Chronic Care Collaborative. “By opening the door to having the latest early detection tools covered by Medicare, Senator Bennet is taking a critical step in ensuring that older Americans who need these technologies most will have access.”
“Early detection, multi-cancer tools will revolutionize our approach to cancer screening, save costs to our health care system, and most important, save countless lives,” said Senator Bennet. “I’m pleased to join this effort to ensure that our most vulnerable have access to these innovative tests for early cancer detection under Medicare.”
Learn more about the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act here. Join the conversation online by using #earlydetection.