Colon Cancer Screening
According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 139,000 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Colon cancer is the second leading cancer in the United States. Yet, 90% of colon cancer cases can be cured when found and treated at an early stage, so regular screenings are important. Screenings should start at age 50-if not before. People who have a risk of colon cancer may need to start screenings at an earlier age.
- What are the Risk Factors & Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
- How Can I be Screened for Colon Cancer?
- Video: Colonoscopy—What Patients Can Expect
- How do I schedule an appointment for a Colonoscopy or other colon cancer screening?
- Are these Screenings covered by Insurance?
- Age 50 years or older
- Obesity and lack of exercise
- High-fat diet
- Drinking Alcohol
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Family history of polyps or colon cancer
- Changes in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation or caliber of the stool
- A feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
- Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
- Abdominal discomfort (gas, bloating or cramps)
- Unexplained loss of appetite or weight, weakness, fatigue or jaundice
- A fecal occult blood test (FOBT). A FOBT is used to find occult or hidden blood in feces. A positive test does not always mean cancer is present. In addition, the FOBT can miss some cancers, so it should not be solely relied on for colorectal cancer screening. Patients receive a test kit and instructions on how to take a stool or feces sample at home. The kit is then returned to the hospital for testing. Beginning at age 50, a FOBT should be performed yearly.
- Sigmoidoscopy. A slender, hollow, lighted tube, or sigmoidoscope, is connected to a video camera and inserted into the colon through the rectum in our Advanced Endoscopy Center. The doctor looks at the inside of the rectum and the lower third of the colon for cancer and/or polyps (small growths that can become cancerous). Beginning at age 50, a sigmoidoscopy screening should be performed every 3 to 5 years.
- Colonoscopy. The colonoscopy is considered the gold-standard test for finding colon cancer. A colonoscope is similar to a sigmoidoscope, except the tube is much longer and allows the doctor to see the lining of the entire colon. This is the most thorough exam; it may cause discomfort, but does not usually cause pain. In our Advanced Endoscopy Center, patients are given a sedative to make them feel relaxed and sleepy during the screening, which takes 15-30 minutes. Beginning at age 50, a colonoscopy should be performed every 10 years.
- Barium enema. Patients receive a chalky substance through the anus. The substance (along with air) partially fills and opens the colon, and X-rays are taken. Beginning at age 50, a barium enema should be performed every five to 10 years.
How do I schedule an appointment for a Colonoscopy or other colon cancer screening?
Your primary doctor can refer you to a gastroenterologist who performs these tests at Silver Cross Hospital.
If you don’t have a regular physician, you can contact our free Physician Referral Service at 1-888-660-HEAL (4325) or click here. One of our advisors will determine if you’re a candidate for screening, answer your insurance questions, and help set up your appointment with a gastroenterologist.
Are these Screenings covered by Insurance?
If you are worried about the hospital bill—don’t be. Under the new healthcare reform laws, colon cancer screenings are now starting to be covered in full without your having to meet a deductible or pay a co-pay. Same is true if you are on Medicare. Plus there is no additional co-payments if a polyp is discovered and removed. You may want to check with your physician for any additional costs.