Letter to White House Urges Full Medicare Coverage of Colonoscopy Screenings

Currently, Medicare doesn’t charge patients out of pocket for preventative colonoscopies—unless the procedure detects precancerous polyps. Forty-five organizations—including the American College of Surgeons and The Colon Club, the 2019 winner of the ASCRS Jagelman Award for Colorectal Cancer Advocacy—have written a letter advising the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fully cover colonoscopy screenings under Medicare regardless of the presence of polyps.

The letter points out that Medicare patients are disproportionately affected by colorectal cancer due to their age. Colonoscopy screenings are essential preventative services for this population. Billing as such has the potential not only to reduce government spending on preventable late-stage treatment, but more importantly to save thousands of lives.

ASCRS Young Surgeon Spotlight: Steven A. Lee-Kong

Steven A. Lee-Kong, MD, FACS, FASCRS
Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery
Division of Colon and Rectal
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Columbia University Irving Medical Center
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
New York, New York

Why I am a member of ASCRS:

To help foster a better understanding of colorectal diseases, to build relationships with others interested in the specialty, to continually expand my knowledge regarding the diseases we treat in order to improve my care of patients, and to help enhance the training of subsequent generations of colorectal surgeons.

Why did you specialize in colorectal surgery?

As a medical student who originally was planning on a career in psychiatry, I was drawn to the specialty by amazing mentors while I was on my colorectal surgery rotation. I am forever indebted to Dr. Ken Forde, Dr. Larry Whelan, Dr. Tracey Arnell and Dr. Danny Feingold.

In Memoriam: Dr. Philip H. Gordon

The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons is saddened to report the passing of Dr. Philip H. Gordon on April 11, 2018. Dr. Gordon was the 1994 – 1995 ASCRS president.

He was the first Canadian president of ASCRS and the founding president of the Canadian Society of Colorectal Surgeons. His esteemed career included:

  • Senior Surgeon, Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital.
  • Vice Chairman, Department of Surgery, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital.
  • Professor, Departments of Surgery and Oncology, McGill University.
  • Director, Section of Colorectal Surgery, McGill University.

Born in 1942, Dr. Gordon received his medical degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1964 and completed his general surgery residency at the University of Pittsburgh in 1969. He received ABCRS certification in 1974. An ASCRS member since 1972, he become a Fellow in 1976.

Dr. Gordon is survived by wife of 48 years, Rosalie; three children and three grandchildren. Funeral services were held.

Dr. Gordon was a thoughtful leader and friend of the specialty, and he will be remembered for his sense of humor. Dr. David A. Rothenberger, ASCRS president from 1996 – 1997, commented, "Phil was always such an alive, active and engaged friend who always had a broad smile, a look of mischief and eyebrows that could raise several inches on his command. I am sure we each have favorite memories of being with Phil. One for me was when we had a panel of past presidents at the ASCRS meeting, and I brought masks of past U.S. presidents for each to wear. Phil immediately picked the Richard Nixon mask. His impersonation of "tricky Dick" with arms extended and hunched back had us all in tears laughing. He was a special man, husband, father, colleague and gentle soul. We will miss him."

Dr. Yanek Chiu remembers Dr. Gordon fondly and wrote a letter to ASCRS President Dr. Guy Orangio to share his thoughts on Dr. Gordon.

View Dr. Gordon’s 1995 President’s Message on the ASCRS website.

In Memoriam: Lars Arvid Påhlman, Renowned Colorectal Surgeon and Researcher

The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) is saddened to learn of the loss of one of its honorary fellows, Lars Arvid Påhlman, MD, PhD, who died on November 21 at age 69.

Dr. Påhlman spent most of his career at the University Hospital of Uppsula, Sweden, and became head of the Colorectal Unit at the Department of Surgery at the University Hospital in 1989. Regarded as one of the preeminent colorectal surgeons in the world, he made a name for himself through his extensive research into the prevention and management of rectal cancer. He was well published and chaired or participated in many trials that addressed the treatment of rectal cancer.

A past president of the European Society of Surgical Oncology and the European Society of Coloproctology, Dr. Påhlman was also a founding member and past president of the Swedish Society for Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Dr. Påhlman served as a member of the ASCRS International Committee and in 2012 received the distinction of Honorary Fellow of the ASCRS.

Dr. Påhlman’s innumerous contributions have improved the lives of his many patients and paved the way for future advancements in colorectal surgery. Most importantly, he was a highly respected colleague and friend to many in the field. The ASCRS expresses its deepest condolences to his wife Lena and three grown children, along with warm appreciation for his service to the Society and the field.

In Memoriam: Robert J. Rubin, MD

Robert J. Rubin, MD, of Watchung, NJ, passed away on December 21, 2015, at the age of 87. A resident of Watchung for more than 40 years and highly respected surgeon in the field of colon and rectal surgery, he was a former vice president for the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

Dr. Rubin received his MD from Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia, PA, before completing residencies at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and Philadelphia General Hospital. He went on to become chief of surgery at JFK Medical Center and was also clinical professor of surgery at RWJ Medical School and co-director of their residency training program for colon and rectal surgery. In addition, Dr. Rubin served in the United States Navy from 1955-1957.

Throughout his storied career Dr. Rubin was known for his thoughtful nature and generosity in mentoring others in the field. The ASCRS extends its deepest sympathies to Dr. Rubin's wife, Lillian, his grown children, and friends, and gratefully acknowledges his contributions to the Society and the field.

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