Our Legislature has enacted two important bills this session — one mandating insurance coverage for genetic testing for certain types of cancer and another measure strengthening the criteria for breast cancer screenings. 

As researchers and scientists develop new tools to combat life-threatening diseases like cancer, it places the responsibility on the shoulders of our politicians to make sure innovations are accessible to those who can benefit from them.

We are proud to have advocated for removing cancer screening access burdens. And our work is just beginning. 

Currently, early screenings exist for breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. But today, seven of every 10 cancer deaths are from a type of cancer for which there are no screenings. But a new category of early detection technologies is undergoing clinical testing — technologies that can detect the DNA signatures of cancerous tumors in the bloodstream. Through a noninvasive blood draw, these early detection technologies have demonstrated the ability to detect dozens of cancers, even if the patient is exhibiting no symptoms.

There is bipartisan legislation in Congress that would create a pathway for these innovations to be made accessible for Medicare beneficiaries upon FDA approval, known as the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act (H.R. 1946/S. 1873). This legislation would yield a similar outcome to legislation previous Congresses passed to provide Medicare coverage for mammograms and colonoscopies and an opportunity to save more lives. 

The Louisiana Legislature has taken steps to help improve our perennially poor cancer mortality rate and medical science is doing its part. If Congress steps up, we could see meaningful progress in our battle against a disease that has plagued us for far too long.

CHADWICK LANDRY

JULIE STOKES

Cancer Advocacy Group of Louisiana

Metairie