March 18, 2021

Watson Coleman, Payne Introduce Resolution to Recognize the Impact of Colorectal Cancer on the Black Community

Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) introduced H.Res. 242, a resolution acknowledging the horrific impact colorectal cancer has on the Black community and that the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force needs to reduce the age of screening for this cancer.

Colorectal Cancer, or CRC, is the third most common cancer in the United States for men and women combined, and it’s the second leading cause of cancer death. On average, CRC takes more than 50,000 lives each year. The rate of CRC is 24% higher among Black men and 19% higher among Black women than compared to white men and women. In regard to the rate of CRC death, it is 47% higher among Black men and 34% higher among Black women.

“While Colorectal Cancer is a terrible disease that has devastated so many families, it has a 90% survival rate if caught early,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. “Many of those we’ve lost could have been saved if they had access to screenings just a few years earlier. Raising awareness not only of the importance of screenings but the need for early access of screenings can spare so many families the hardships and heartache of lost family members.”

“Colorectal cancer is a silent killer of more than 50,000 Americans every year,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.  “Men are 30 percent more likely to get it than women and Black Americans are 40 percent more likely to die from it.  That is why it is so important for everyone to get cancer screenings and get them early if you have a history of this cancer in your family.  I lost my father, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr., to colorectal cancer in 2012.  I work in Congress every day to prevent Americans from losing their fathers and loved ones to this dreaded disease.” 

The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force currently recommends screening at 50, which in turn impacts when insurance companies will cover the screening. Due to the uptick in younger people dying of CRC, especially in the Black community, the resolution cites the need to have that lowered to at least 45.

"Inequities in colorectal cancer screening and treatment among communities of color, specifically in racial/ethnic minority groups and low-income populations, continue to persist," said Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. "Colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest, most preventable cancers; however, Black Americans are 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed and 40 percent more likely to die from the disease. In 2020, the country was faced with numerous challenges — a pandemic that exacerbated existing health disparities; the elevation and awareness of systemic racism and social unrest; and the death of superhero actor Chadwick Boseman, which drew unprecedented attention to colorectal cancer in the Black community and among those under 50 years old. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance applauds Rep. Watson Coleman and Rep. Payne, Jr. for addressing the disparities in colorectal cancer incidence and outcomes for the Black community, and we will continue to be a partner in the urgent work of addressing systemic health inequities and championing more research into understanding and overcoming disparities."

H. Res. 242 is cosponsored by, Alma Adams (NC-12), Colin Allred (TX-32), Karen Bass (CA-37), Joyce Beatty (OH-3), Sanford Bishop (GA-1), Andre Carson (IN-7), Katherine Clark (MA-5), Yvette Clarke (NY-7), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Jahana Hayes (CT-5), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Gregory Meeks (NY-5), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Michael San Nicolas (GU-At Large), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Daren Soto (FL-9), Bennie Thompson (MS-2), Nydia Velazquez (NY-7).

Text of the resolution can be found here.