Colon cancer can happen to anyone, regardless of family history. However, it’s also one of the most treatable cancers if caught early. That’s why regular screenings are usually recommended if you’re 50 years or older.
The American Cancer Society says that preventing colon cancer, not just finding it early, is a major reason for getting tested: “Having their polyps found and removed keeps some people from getting colorectal cancer.*” Setting up an appointment for a routine test now, and keeping it, is surely easier than changing your life to deal with cancer later.
Most people over 50 should get regular screenings, regardless of family history.
Screening options recommended by The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) include:
Annual Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) — Detects blood in the stool using a small sample on a chemically treated card, pad, or wipe. This test can be taken in the comfort of your own home should be done annually.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years (with FOBT every 3 years) — Allows your doctor to view the rectum and the lower third of the colon through a scope.
Colonoscopy every 10 years — Allows your doctor to look at the interior lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon) through a thin, flexible viewing instrument called a colonoscope. Your doctor can collect tissue samples for testing and remove any abnormal growths.
Note: Before either a colonoscopy or a sigmoidoscopy, you will need to clean out your colon. Colon prep takes one to two days depending on which type of prep your doctor recommends. Some preps may be taken the evening before the test. For many people, the prep may be scarier than the actual test. Plan to stay home during your prep time since you will need to use the bathroom frequently. The colon prep causes loose, frequent stools and diarrhea so that your colon will be empty for the test.
Just remember: A little discomfort could save your life.
Your doctor can help you determine the screening method that will work best for you. If you are looking for a doctor to discuss your screening options, head over to our Physician Finder tool to locate a quality provider within the Humana network.
The American Cancer Society says that if you have a family history of colon cancer, you’re at higher risk and you may need to get screened using a different schedule*. Ask your doctor about when and how often you should get screened if it runs in your family.
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This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor.
Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO and PFFS organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal.
This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments and restrictions may apply. Benefits may change each year.
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