Colon cancer affects men and women equally.
Colon cancer affects all races and ethnicities.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.
Screening should begin at age 45 for all healthy adults – younger if other risk factors are present.
The single best prevention for colon cancer is the early detection and removal of colon polyps.
There are several colon cancer screening methods available. However, colonoscopy is the only test that both detects and prevents cancer. During a colonoscopy, physicians can locate and remove colon polyps before they have the opportunity to develop into colon cancer.
Research has confirmed that the single best prevention for colon cancer is the early detection and removal of colon polyps. The best method for detection and removal is a colonoscopy.
For those with a higher risk of colon cancer – such as personal history of colon polyps, cancer, or family history of colon cancer – colonoscopy is the only recommended test.
Not All Screening Methods Are Created Equal.
In addition to visual exams (like a colonoscopy), there are stool-based screening tests available, including FIT, gFOBT, and Cologuard®. These tests check your stool (feces) for possible signs of cancer. They are less invasive than a colonoscopy, can be done in the comfort of your own home, and are an economical option for some people.
However, these tests need to be done more frequently (typically every year), can miss colon polyps and some cancers, and have resulted in many false-positive readings. In addition, if the result from a stool-based test is abnormal, you’ll still need to get a colonoscopy in order to locate and confirm a cancer diagnosis.
Get the most out of your screening benefits and give yourself the most peace of mind by choosing a colonoscopy.
Understand your unique insurance coverage.
Screening colonoscopies are considered a preventive service, and therefore, covered by insurance companies at little to no cost to patients. However, there are strict guidelines surrounding what is determined a screening colonoscopy. This includes factors like age, personal and family medical history, active symptoms, or other colon cancer risk factors.
Always check with your insurance provider regarding your unique benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
The first step in preventing colon cancer is to get educated about the disease and its screening recommendations.
Screening is the process of looking for cancer or pre-cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, it’s critical to follow recommended screening guidelines. It’s one of the most powerful tools for preventing colon cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, when colon cancer is detected early, before it has spread, the 5-year survival rate of a patient is 90%. This means 9 out of 10 people with early-stage cancer survive at least 5 years. But if the cancer has had a chance to spread outside the colon, survival rates are much lower. This is another one of the many reasons why screening is so very important.
Following the American Cancer Society’s guidelines, our board-certified physicians recommend screening colonoscopies for every adult beginning at age 45, and earlier for those with a family history of colon cancer or other risk factors. Talk to your doctor about when you should begin.
While there is no specific cause of colon cancer, certain factors can increase your risk of developing the disease. These can include:
• Age 45 or older
• Personal history of colon polyps, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis
• Family history of colon cancer or colon polyps
• A diet rich in fat and red meat
• Heavy alcohol use
• Cigarette smoking
• Obesity, diabetes, and lack of exercise
For those who do not have health insurance, who are underinsured, or who wish to pay without filing for insurance coverage, it’s difficult to determine the true cost of healthcare services – such as a colonoscopy.
Each United Digestive partner practice offers discounted rates for patients paying out-of-pocket. Most of our self-pay rates include all associated fees – physician, facility, pathology, and anesthesia – so you can make an educated and confident decision about your digestive healthcare.
Don’t Ignore the Bowel
Colon cancer symptoms are not unique. Most of the time, these same symptoms may be caused by something that isn’t cancer, such as infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease.
That being said, if you have any of these issues, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
- Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss