Olympus, Colon Cancer Coalition to target screening rates

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Colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer death but can be effectively treated if detected early.

Olympus and the Colon Cancer Coalition are partnering on a public education and awareness scheme with the goal of raising the screening rate for colon cancer to 80%.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. According to American Cancer Society estimates, more than 135,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year. The majority of them, about 70%, will be colon cancer cases. Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death but is most effectively treated if caught early.

But people may avoid colonoscopy, an endoscopic procedure to screen for the disease, for a number of reasons. A 2015 study found that some people at risk of developing colon cancer skip screening because they think they don’t need it or because it’s too expensive. And others dislike the procedure.

Olympus, the largest distributor of endoscopes—including colonoscopes and duodenoscopes—in the U.S., is sponsoring Colon Cancer Coalition events across the country and will participate in community outreach events.

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"We believe it is our responsibility to help raise awareness of colon cancer," said Nacho Abia, president and CEO of Olympus Corporation of the Americas, in the statement. "Olympus will serve as an advocate to increase public education and encourage prevention and treatment of this disease. Our relationship with Colon Cancer Coalition accelerates our ability to achieve our mission of contributing to society by making people's lives healthier, safer and more fulfilling around the world."

But it hasn't all been smooth sailing for Olympus.

Back in 2015, Olympus’ endoscopes were implicated in the spread of drug-resistant bacteria at the UCLA Health System in California. Two patients, who had undergone duodenoscope procedures, sued the company for fraud and negligence, claiming Olympus did not provide doctors and hospitals with proper instructions on how to clean the devices.

In March last year, Olympus settled with the Department of Justice for $646 million over a number of civil and criminal charges that stated the company gained business by making illegal payments to doctors and hospitals.