The American Cancer Society lists colorectal cancer as the second most common cause of cancer death in cancers that affects both men and women. Early detection of any cancer is key to successful treatment and survivor rates. The recommended age for regular colorectal cancer screenings has recently been lowered to age 45. There are a variety of screening tools available, visit your primary care physician to see which test is right for you. If you need to establish with a primary care provider visit our find a provider page.
Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer
As we age the risk of developing cancers increases. There are other factors that put you at risk of colorectal cancer:
- Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
- A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
Lifestyle risk factors:
- Lack of regular physical activity.
- A diet low in fruit and vegetables.
- A low-fiber and high-fat diet, or a diet high in processed meats.
- Overweight and obesity.
- Alcohol consumption.
- Tobacco use. For help with quitting tobacco talk to your doctor or contact the SD Quitline or call 1-866-SD-QUITS
Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider and discuss your colorectal cancer risks and which screening method is right for you.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
You may be at increased risk due to family or personal history. It’s important to see your health care provider annually for a physical and talk to him or her about any health concerns you may have. Know your family history and make sure it is documented in your medical history.
Tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms—
- Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement).
- Stomach pain, aches or cramps that do not go away.
- Losing weight and you don’t know why.
These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know what is causing them is to speak with your doctor about them.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
There are several options available to screen for colorectal cancer the right one for you will depend on several factors. You and your doctor will decide which one is best for you.
- Stool tests
- Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
- FIT-DNA test
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- CT colonography
Learn more about each test on the CDC’s website
Insurance & Medicare Coverage
Most insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screening for people who are 45 years old or older. Colorectal cancer screening tests may be covered by your health insurance policy without a deductible or co-pay. If you have specific questions about covered benefits on your policy, call the customer service phone number on the back of your insurance card. For more information about Medicare coverage visit the Medicare website or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)