Guest Blog: New Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidance for Health Plans

Our guest blog authors are Emily Bell, MPH, the associate director of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, a coalition supported by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Gregg Walker, MBA, who leads the American Cancer Society’s collaborative work with health plans.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Best Practices Handbook for Health Plans

Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colorectal Cancer Screening Best Practices Handbook for Health Plans.

On March 28th, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) released a new resource: Colorectal Cancer Screening Best Practices Handbook for Health Plans. Health plans have an essential role to play in the effort to screen more Americans for colorectal cancer, particularly given that seven out of 10 people who are unscreened are covered by insurance. The handbook provides a first-of-its-kind compilation of best practices, case studies, templates and tools, that will kick start or infuse health plan efforts to save more lives and prevent more cancers.

Colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined, but it doesn’t have to be. It is no secret that colorectal cancer screening saves lives, yet about 1 in 3 adults between 50 and 75 years old – about 23 million people – are not getting screened as recommended.

To move the needle, the NCCRT launched a bold initiative to reach an 80% screening rate among adults aged 50 and older by 2018. This handbook was developed to provide health plans with the tools they need to understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to increasing screening among members.

What will you find in the handbook?

  • 10 best practices to increase colorectal cancer screening
  • 12 case studies describing the work of high-performing health plans
  • Market-tested messages and marketing strategies
    Colorectal Cancer Screening
    Screening Rate Stellar Achievement
  • Sample collateral, templates and tools

Is your health plan committed to increasing colorectal cancer screening? We encourage you to visit to learn more about the 80% by 2018 initiative and consider pledging your organization’s support. You will also find tools for primary care providers, community health centers, specialists, hospitals and other partners, including our market research and tested messages to reach the unscreened.


And if your health plan reaches 80%, we want to hear from you! NCCRT is recognizing health plans that reach an 80% screening rate. Plans that reach 80% are recognized on the 80% by 2018 Hall of Fame and can request an 80% Screening Rate Stellar Achievement Web Badge to promote their achievement.

Potential benefits are many, including improved performance on HEDIS and Medicare Stars ratings, but we think you’ll agree the real carrot is the impact we can make by saving lives. If we can achieve 80% by 2018, 277,000 cases and 203,000 colorectal cancer deaths would be prevented by 2030.

And you don’t have to go it alone. The ACS has staff deployed in every state charged with strategically partnering with health plan professionals. Armed with resources and subject-matter-expertise, ACS staff can help influence healthy behaviors, increase access to quality of life services and increase cancer screening rates state-wide for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers so an individual’s cancer is either prevented or found early, at the most treatable stage. If you do not already have a relationship or wish to connect with your ACS support, contact Gregg Walker at

Together, we’re making colorectal cancer screening the next great public health story. We hope you’ll join us in our shared goal. Questions about the handbook or 80% by 2018? Contact

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