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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

PHILADELPHIA, March 23, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Independence Blue Cross (Independence) announced today that it pledges to help increase colorectal cancer screening rates by supporting the 80% by 2018 initiative, led by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), an organization co-founded by ACS and CDC.

"We are pleased to join the cause to improve colorectal cancer screening rates and help this important effort to eliminate colorectal cancer as a major public health problem," said Dr. Richard Snyder, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Independence. "Colorectal cancer is the nation's second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths; however it is one of only a few cancers that can almost always be prevented. There are several screening options available — even take home options, and most public and private insurance plans — including Independence Blue Cross — cover colorectal cancer screening without any copayment."

80% by 2018 is a National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) initiative in which nearly two hundred organizations have committed to eliminating colorectal cancer as a major public health problem and are working toward the shared goal of 80% of adults aged 50 and older being regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. Leading public health organizations, such as ACS, CDC, and the NCCRT are rallying organizations to embrace this shared goal.

"Colorectal cancer is a major public health problem, and adults age 50 and older should be regularly screened for it, but we have found that many people aren't getting tested because they don't believe they are at risk, don't understand that there are testing options, or don't think they can afford it," said Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer for the American Cancer Society. "The truth is that colon cancer can be prevented by removing pre-cancerous polyps or cured by finding it before symptoms appear. There may be local resources available to help those that are uninsured as well. That's why we are asking all members of the community to come together and get screened and to talk to your friends and family who are over age 50 about getting screened."

Through proper colorectal cancer screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called "polyps") in the colon, before they become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether and save lives.

While colorectal cancer incidence rates have dropped 30 percent in the U.S. over the last 10 years among adults 50 and older, it is still the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, despite being highly preventable, detectable, and treatable. In fact, in 2014 in the U.S., 137,000 cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed.

Recognizing the urgency in alerting its members about the importance of colorectal cancer screenings, in 2014 Independence began reaching out to eligible members via its award-winning IBX Wire, a private, personalized, HIPAA-compliant way for members and Independence to communicate. Using innovative technology for smartphones, the insurer sent a text message with a link to a screening reminder to adults 50 and older who had opted-in to the IBX Wire service. The results showed that members who received the reminder were nearly twice as likely to get screened within four months as those who did not get the text.

Part of the 80 percent by 2018 goal is to leverage the energy of multiple and diverse partners to empower communities, patients, physicians, hospitals, and other medical professionals to increase screening rates. The 80% by 2018 initiative consists of health care professionals, health insurers, health systems, communities, businesses, community health centers, government, non-profit organizations and patient advocacy groups who are committed to getting more people screened for colorectal cancer to prevent more cancers and save lives.

For more information or to learn about resources in your area, visit: cancer.org/fightcoloncancer.

About the American Cancer Society:



The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of nearly three million volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society's efforts have contributed to a 22 percent decline in cancer death rates in the US during the past two decades, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. Thanks in part to our progress nearly 14.5 million Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will celebrate more birthdays this year. We're determined to finish the fight against cancer. As the nation's largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, we're finding cures and ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, visit cancer.org or call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345.

About Independence Blue Cross:

Independence Blue Cross is the leading health insurance organization in southeastern Pennsylvania. With our affiliates, we serve nearly 10 million people in 25 states and the District of Columbia, including 2.5 million in the region. For more than 75 years, we have been enhancing the health and wellness of the people and communities we serve by delivering innovative and competitively priced health care products and services; pioneering new ways to reward doctors, hospitals, and other health care professionals for coordinated, quality care; and supporting programs and events that promote wellness. To learn more, visit www.ibx.com. Connect with us on Facebook at ibx.com/facebook and on Twitter at @ibx. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

CONTACT: Media contacts: Kathleen Conlon Independence Blue Cross 215-241-4576 Kathleen.conlon@ibx.com Ashley Engelman American Cancer Society 212-492-8403 Ashley.Engelman@cancer.org

Source:Independence Blue Cross