Schedule the Gold Standard Colonoscopy Today
One of the most preventable and treatable types of cancer is colon cancer. The number one way to prevent colon cancer is to get screened to find it in the early stages before it has a chance to grow. The gold standard for screening is the colonoscopy.
Screening should start at age 50 or earlier if you are at high risk. Some of the high risk factors include family or personal history of polyps and colon cancer, diagnoses such as Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis, an inactive lifestyle, obesity, cigarette smoking, a diet high in red meat & fat and low in fruits & vegetables.
Why is this test the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening?
· The colonoscopy is the most complete screening method available and only needed every ten years (unless polyps are found and a follow-up colonoscopy would be needed sooner.)
· The colonoscopy is a simple and safe procedure where the physician uses a long, thin, flexible, lighted tube with a camera to detect polyps in the rectum and entire colon. If polyps are found, they are removed during the procedure.
Sedation is given to minimize discomfort. Make sure to discuss anesthesia options with your physician before the procedure and aim for the lightest level of sedation that you need. A prep to clean out the colon is necessary the day before the procedure. Information about the prep would be given to you from your physician. Under the Patient Prevention and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), all insurers are required to cover preventive screening tests, like colonoscopies. You might owe a co-pay or deductible, so check with your insurance carrier to see what is covered and what would be out of pocket. While you’re on the phone with them, check to see if they’re giving an incentive for getting a colonoscopy. Some insurance companies are trying to boost motivation by giving gift cards.
If you’re still unsure about a colonoscopy, there are other screening tests available:
· Stool sample tests such as the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) to detect the presence of blood. They need to be done every year.
· Sigmoidoscopy which only views the rectum and lower third of the colon. It needs to be done every five years.
· Virtual colonoscopy which may not be covered by your insurance carrier.
· Double contract barium enema which if polyps were found would need to be removed by a colonoscopy.
· Note: A colonoscopy would be indicated if blood or any other problems were found with any of the above tests.
Colorectal cancer can be prevented and best treated by screening, getting regular exercise and consuming a healthy diet. So be active, stop smoking, drink alcohol in moderation, eat your fruits and veggies. During this March Colorectal Awareness Month, we urge you to no longer put off that gold standard colonoscopy. It’s the best, most reliable and most prestigious colorectal cancer screening test out there. It’s the top of the line!