March closes out Colon Cancer Awareness Month
TriWest Healthcare Alliance
PHOENIX — When colon cancer is found early and treated, nine out of 10 people will hit that five-year survival rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, more than half of all deaths from colon cancer could be prevented if everyone older than 50 was screened regularly. However, as of 2008, only 63 percent of adults ages 50-75 had been screened.
The colon is the body’s large intestine. Sometimes, precancerous growths — or polyps, as they’re often called — can develop inside the colon. These polyps have been known to form up to 10 years before invasive cancer develops, according to the CDC.
Colon cancer screenings can detect these polyps before they become life-threatening, allowing doctors to surgically remove them.
Some of the most common colon cancer screening tests follow:
Colonoscopy. Doctors use a thin, long, lighted tube to check inside the colon for polyps. Doctors can actually remove polyps during this test. The test is recommended only once every 10 years.
Stool test. Doctors will provide their patients with a test kit. At home, the patient uses a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of the stool. The doctor or lab can then check the stool for anything unusual.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy. Doctors will use a short, thin, lighted tube to check for polyps inside the colon and rectum. This procedure only needs to be done once every five years.
Tricare covers colon cancer screenings at no cost to you. Tricare will cover one colonoscopy every 10 years, in conjunction with CDC guidelines.
Talk with your doctor to see what other screenings are right for you because Tricare covers a variety of screening tests for colon cancer, depending on your doctor’s recommendations.
To learn what you can do to help prevent colon cancer, visit www.TriWest.com/colon.