Paying for Colorectal Cancer Screening

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening starting at age 50. Patients can get a colonoscopy, or they can get one of a variety of other tests including stool-based tests. In an article published Dec. 14 in the Des Moines Register, columnist Lee Rood discusses one possible downside of stool-based tests, based on her personal experience. If a patient’s stool-based test comes back positive for possible signs of cancer, a doctor will order a colonoscopy. But while colonoscopies for screening should be covered at no cost to the patient as preventive care per the Affordable Care Act, a colonoscopy after a positive stool-based test may not be considered a screening test, but rather a diagnostic one. Patients may be discouraged from getting a colonoscopy if they find they have to pay a steep price for it.

Weight Loss Associated With Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

Losing weight was associated with reduced risk of breast cancer in a group of postmenopausal women, according to a study published Dec. 17 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers analyzed data from a set of studies including more than 180,000 women ages 50 or older. Women who lost weight and maintained their lower weight during the course of the study period, which spanned around 10 years, were less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those who maintained about the same weight throughout the study period. “We’re so thankful to be able to say it’s not too late to lower your risk if you’ve previously gained weight, even after age 50,” study co-author Lauren Teras, scientific director of epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society, told Time.

FDA Approves Treatments for Bladder and Prostate Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 18 approved Padcev (enfortumab vedotin-ejfv) for treatment of locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer. This new therapy is indicated for patients who have been previously treated with an immune checkpoint inhibitor and platinum-containing chemotherapy. Padcev is an antibody-drug conjugate. It is composed of an antibody that binds to bladder cancer cells and a drug that kills cells. On Dec. 16, the FDA also approved Xtandi (enzalutamide) for treatment of patients with metastatic prostate cancer that is castration-sensitive. The drug had already been approved for patients with nonmetastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Xtandi works by preventing hormones like testosterone from binding to receptors.​​​