Colon cancer is a very preventable cancer, yet it remains the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States.
Did you know that?
And the best screening test? Yep, the colonoscopy. The one test every 50-something should get, but many do not because it just sounds—let’s admit it—unpleasant.
You know what’s more unpleasant? Having colon cancer, surgery, radiation, multiple rounds of chemotherapy, and so on.
Colon cancer survivor Jane Johnson, 55, of Clatsop County, OR, knows. “It’s so easy to say you’ll do it later,” she says in an article published by the American Cancer Society.
When she finally had a colonoscopy after years of putting it off, she awoke from the anesthesia with a diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer that had spread to her lung and liver.
“Had I had my colonoscopy when my doctor first suggested it,” she admits, “it would be a different ballgame now.”
Dr. David Shute, GreenField Health Medical Director, couldn’t agree more. “Early detection is key,” he says. All GreenField Health clinicians recommend the colonoscopy as the most effective and efficient screening method. When colon cancer is found and treated early, the 5-year survival rate is 90%.
“If you’re not at high risk and the test is normal, then you’re good for 10 years,” Shute says. “If they find a precancerous polyp, it can be removed right then
There are other options for screening, including the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), Shute adds. While this test is effective, a colonoscopy is more effective and necessary if the FIT reveals abnormal results.
“If you have questions or concerns about whether you’re due for a colonoscopy, contact your clinician or health coordinator,” Shute suggests. “We’ll check your medical records and provide you with a referral, if needed.”
The Affordable Care Act requires health plans fully cover the costs for screening tests including a colonoscopy. However, if an abnormality is found, which means the colonoscopy likely will be billed as a diagnostic procedure and may be subject to insurance deductibles and co-pays. Check your health insurance plan for specific details.
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