If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. That’s wise advice most of the time, but never when it comes to your health. If you are in great shape for a man over 65 – even if you’ve never felt better – now is the time to get a colorectal cancer screening, which is now covered by Medicare. Apart from lung cancer, colorectal cancer is the largest cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. It affects both genders, but men contract colon cancer more often than women, and more than 90 percent of all cases occur in the over-50 age group. In fact, half of every 100 men who are 60 today will develop colon cancer within the next decade. That is a shocking statistic.
You should also know that the risk of contracting colorectal cancer increases as you age. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 60 percent of all colorectal cancer deaths could be avoided if everyone over 50 were to get regular screenings. With odds like that, the obvious decision is to get screened. And because your Medicare covers an annual digital rectal exam and a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test once every 12 months, you don’t need to put off screenings because of the price tag. Medicare also covers several types of colorectal cancer screenings at no extra charge.
Medicare recipients now receive access to Cologuard™. Cologuard is a multi-target stool DNA test, the first of its kind. Best of all, it’s available to you even if you’re not exhibiting any colorectal cancer symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration and Medicare are jointly providing a pilot program to bring you these cutting-edge treatments as they become available. Medicare is working to make sure that your treatments are covered faster than ever before. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Medicare Part B covers the Cologuard test once every 3 years for Medicare recipients who meet all of the following criteria:
- You’re between 50 and 85 years of age;
- You’re at average (not elevated) risk of developing colorectal cancer. This means that you don’t have a personal or family history of: adenomatous polyps, colorectal cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis; and
- You don’t show any signs or symptoms of colorectal disease. These include, but aren’t limited to, lower gastrointestinal pain, blood in your stool, positive guaiac fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test.
If you do exhibit any of the symptoms listed above, you are not eligible for Medicare coverage of the Cologuardtest, but you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to make sure these symptoms aren’t part of a larger health problem.
There’s no time like the present to get screened for colorectal cancer – early detection could save your life.