What Should I Know About Screening for Colorectal Cancer?
A screening test is used to look for a disease when a person doesn’t have symptoms. (When a person has symptoms, diagnostic tests are used to find out the cause of the symptoms.)
Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
Colorectal cancer is highly preventable, and timely colonoscopies are the only way to achieve that goal. Don’t wait for symptoms! If you’re age 50+ (or younger, if you’re at higher risk of colorectal cancer), then it’s time to have a colonoscopy.
Regular screening, beginning at age 50, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that adults age 50 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. The Task Force recommends that adults age 76 to 85 ask their doctor if they should be screened.
Learn about the Easy Prep Colonoscopy screening test.
When should I begin to get screened?
Precancerous polyps don’t typically produce noticeable symptoms. If you have any of the following signs of colorectal cancer, seek our assistance immediately:
- A change in bowel habits, including diarrhea, constipation or a change in stool
- Rectal bleeding, or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, pain, feeling full or bloated
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic fatigue
3 reasons to begin colon cancer screenings earlier
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend beginning regular screenings soon after your 50th birthday to prevent developing colorectal cancer. However, there are a few reasons your doctor may recommend getting screened earlier and more often, including:
- If you have a parent, sibling or child with a history of colorectal polyps or colon cancer.
- If you have an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
- If you have a genetic syndrome like Lynch syndrome which can increase your risk of developing colon cancer by approximately 50 percent.
Screening colonoscopies are generally exempt from your insurance deductible.
Because screening colonoscopies are the gold standard for preventing colorectal cancer, most insurance plans (including Medicare) will exempt them from your deductible, minimizing or eliminating your out-of-pocket costs! To learn more about the difference between screening and diagnostic colonoscopies, click here.
We accept most insurances, including HMO, PPO, Medicare and Medicaid plans.
Colonoscopies typically receive excellent insurance coverage, and we accept a wide variety of plans to make screening for colorectal cancer affordable for as many people as possible. However, your plan may still require some out-of-pocket contribution. We offer CareCredit® and in-house financing to make sure you can access this important procedure. To learn more about insurance and financial policies, visit our FAQ.
50 or above? The time for a colonoscopy is now.
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Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio (GCSA) was established in 1978 and has grown into one of the largest private GI practices in Texas. We have 23 board-certified gastroenterologists on staff, and every single one is dedicated to providing you comprehensive, compassionate and individualized digestive and liver care.