Know your risk: A colorectal cancer screening can help save your life

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the U.S., but early screening can lead to the best outcomes.
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Colorectal cancer – cancer of the colon and rectum – is the second-leading cancer killer in the U.S., affecting both men and women. The good news is that colorectal cancer can be preventable and, if detected early, is more likely to be cured.

Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer risk increases with age. About 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years or older. Some people may have higher risk depending on their personal or family history. Racial/ethnic disparities can also increase risk of colorectal cancer. For example, compared to white Americans, African Americans have a 20% higher incidence of colorectal cancer.

Prevent colorectal cancer with screening

A routine screening is the most effective way to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. The CDC has just updated the recommended age for a first screening from 50 to 45. Screenings can catch cancer early before symptoms are present. Some screenings can even prevent colorectal cancer by removing polyps (precancerous growths) before they become cancerous.

There are different types of tests used for colorectal cancer screening. Some tests, such as stool tests, can be done at home and sent to a lab by mail. A colonoscopy, however, is a medical procedure. Those at average risk only need to do it once every 10 years.

Is colorectal cancer screening covered?

As a preventive health service, the costs of your colorectal cancer screening may be covered when care is provided through a network provider. There may be a copay or coinsurance payments if a member:

  • Uses an out-of-network provider,
  • Is under the age of 50, or
  • Got screened because of signs and symptoms (called a diagnostic screening) or more often than the recommended time frame between tests.

For more information about coverage, check your plan’s Explanation of Benefits or Evidence of Coverage.

What to learn more about preventive care?