Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It’s expected to kill more than 50,000 Americans in 2019. The good news? If caught early, the survival rate is very high.
That’s why screening for colorectal cancer is so important. Screening is generally recommended for all average-risk patients aged 50-75. People who have a family member with colorectal cancer or polyps are at increased risk and might need to start screening before age 50. High-risk factors include a personal history of polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic ulcerative colitis, or a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
What are the options for screening?
There are four main ways to screen for colorectal cancer:
- Colonoscopy: Colonoscopy uses a flexible, lighted tool called a colonoscope to view the entire colon and remove cancerous and precancerous growths called polyps if they are detected.
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): This test checks the stool for tiny amounts of blood given off by polyps or colorectal cancer.
- CT colonography: This involves a CT scanner and computer programs to create a three-dimensional view of the inside of the colon and rectum that can be used to identify polyps or cancer.
- Cologuard: This tests the stool for tiny amounts of blood and identifies altered DNA from cancer or polyps that end up in the stool.
Which screening option is best?
Preventing cancer should always be the first goal. Most colorectal cancers begin as polyps. Finding, quantifying, localizing and removing polyps through screening colonoscopy is the most effective strategy for preventing colorectal cancer. That’s why colonoscopy remains the gold standard for colon cancer screening.
The Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer recommends that physicians should offer colonoscopy first. For patients who decline to have a colonoscopy, the FIT test should be offered next, followed by second-tier tests such as Cologuard and CT colonography for patients who decline both first-line options.
A 2014 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine of 10,000 patients found that screening colonoscopy was better at finding cancer than both Cologuard and the FIT test. FIT and Cologuard were also not as good as colonoscopy at finding pre-cancerous polyps – and unlike colonoscopy, FIT and Cologuard can’t remove polyps.
Cologuard missed one in 13 people who had colorectal cancer detected by screening colonoscopy. Cologuard also missed more than 30 percent of polyps that will soon be cancer and almost 60 percent of polyps that may become cancer.
The FIT test missed almost one in four people who had colorectal cancer detected by screening colonoscopy. FIT also missed more than 50 percent of polyps that will soon be cancer and more than 75 percent of polyps that may become cancer.
Check with your insurance provider
Patients may also have insurance considerations when choosing a test. A follow-up colonoscopy is recommended for positive FIT and Cologuard tests. Individuals with a positive FIT test or Cologuard test who are covered by Medicare may face a costly co-insurance bill after the recommended follow-up colonoscopy.
While insurance covers 100 percent of the preventive screening test, a follow-up colonoscopy for a positive FIT or Cologuard is considered a diagnostic or therapeutic service and may not be fully covered.
Almost one in six people who use the Cologuard test will have a positive result that suggests the presence of colorectal cancer. For almost half of those patients (45 percent), the colonoscopy will show their result from the Cologuard test was a false positive.
Check with your insurance provider before you are screened. Ask how much you should expect to pay if you need a follow-up colonoscopy for a positive FIT or Cologuard test result. This can help you avoid surprise costs.
Talk with Your Doctor
There are several ways to be screened. Remember, colonoscopy is the gold standard, but if you’re unable to be screened by colonoscopy, there are other appropriate options. Talk with your primary care physician about which screening test is best for you and do research about the available options to ensure you’re choosing the best test according to science. Have questions? Contact our professionals at (704) 783-1840 and ask about our Open Access program that makes colon cancer screenings more accessible.
Just like that another year is coming to an end. It’s December and before you settle down for the holidays, you need to make a list of to-do’s. Are doctor’s appointments on that list? Most insurance plans run on the calendar year, meaning that soon your deductible will reset to zero. If you have met, or almost met, your deductible it is smart to complete tests, screenings or procedures before the year ends. We’ve clarified some common health insurance questions and provided tips for calendar year deductibles.
What are deductibles?
Deductibles, copayments and coinsurance refer to the covered costs for which your health insurance plan pays. Your deductible is the amount you’ll pay for certain services before your plan coverage kicks in. Regardless of meeting your deductible, you’ll pay a specified, usually minimal copayment for each medical service you receive. Coinsurance refers to the percentage of total medical costs you will pay once your deductible is met.
Most insurance plans have deductibles that reset to $0 at the beginning of every calendar year. In order to maximize your health plan this year, scheduling appointments will help save money in the long run.
If you have met (or almost) met your deductible, scheduling appointments and completing tests is a good way to save money in the future. Why put off something until next year when your insurance company will start paying the claims after your deductible is met? Here are some examples of things to consider getting done before January:
- Lab work
- Diagnostic testing
- Outpatient surgery
- Prescription refills
If you are not close to meeting your deductible it makes sense to delay health care expenses until after January 1st. Money spent now that will not put you above your deductible will essentially be lost after your plan resets in the new year.
If you find that every year you come close to meeting your deductible but never do, you may be tempted to find a plan with a lower deductible so that you can pay less out of pocket. However, be aware that premiums for lower-deductible plans might be higher than you would end up saving. It’s also important to note that qualified preventative services are covered at 100% and you will not need to pay anything out-of-pocket.
Navigating health insurance can be confusing, there are plenty of resources available to help guide you through everything you need to know.
At Northeast Digestive, your health and wellness is our main concern and we are here to help you live a healthier life. From heartburn to colonoscopies, our team is dedicated to helping solve your digestive issues. We provide a full range of services and procedures to diagnose and treat a variety of digestive conditions and diseases. We participate in most of the insurance products from a wide range of insurance carriers and are happy to answer any insurance questions you may have. Need to schedule an appointment? Visit our website or call (704)783-1840 for more information.
At Northeast Digestive Health Center, we recognize the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. As Concord’s longest standing privately owned Gastroenterology office, fostering and maintaining highly personal interactions is our key to providing excellent medical care. Tis’ the season to be thankful, and we are more than grateful for the long-standing relationships and sense of camaraderie we’ve been able to establish in our community. Thank you for putting your trust in us.
Who are we?
Northeast Digestive is a comprehensive practice dedicated to providing consultative, diagnostic, treatment and procedural services for individuals with conditions affecting the digestive tract, liver, pancreas and biliary tree. In Layman’s terms, your health and wellness is our main concern and we are here to help you live a healthier life. As leaders in the digestive field, our highly qualified team of gastroenterologists specializes in helping patients maintain a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) system.
Don’t suffer in silence.
Not sure what a gastroenterologist is or when to see one? From heartburn to colonoscopies, our team is dedicated to helping you with your digestive issues. We provide a full range of services and procedures to diagnose and treat a variety of digestive conditions and diseases.
- Celiac Disease
- Colon Cancer
- Crohn’s Disease
- Diverticular Disease
- General GI
- Hepatitis C
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Peptic Ulcer
- Ulcerative Colitis
Schedule a same-day appointment
Have an issue that needs immediate attention? Schedule a same-day appointment!
Our primary office location also serves as an Outpatient Endoscopy Center. Our office Endoscopy Center is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) and is fully functioning with the most up-to-date equipment. We are able to provide comprehensive endoscopic services at the primary practice office. However, we also perform outpatient procedures at Gateway Surgery Center and CMC-Northeast as well. We also offer a second location at Edison Square, where services include regular office visits, evaluations for screening colonoscopies and hemorrhoid banding.
We understand it takes a tremendous amount of confidence to entrust us with your health. That is why two-way communication, respect and credibility are essential parts of every relationship we build. Interested in learning more about our practice? Visit http://www.northeastdigestive.com or call (704) 783-1840 for more information.