Recently a Wall Street Journal article reported “The incidence of colon cancer, declining since the mid-1980s, plunged a further 30% last decade among Americans 50 and older as more people had colonoscopies…”
“American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Otis Brawley estimated that without the widespread screening efforts that began in the 1980s, ‘we’d be seeing twice as many deaths today. This study celebrates the fact that we’ve almost halved the mortality rate from colon cancer in the last 35 years.’”
“Still, colon cancer remains the third-most-common cancer and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. More than 136,000 new cases, and 50,000 colon-cancer deaths, are expected this year.”
“In general, experts recommend that starting at age 50, people undergo one of three forms of colon-cancer screening: a colonoscopy every 10 years; a test for blood in the stool every year; or a sigmoidoscopy (a test of the upper gastrointestinal tract) every five years along with a stool test every three to five years.”
“The Affordable Care Act requires all insurance policies that began after September 2010 to cover the older colon-cancer screening tests with no out-of-pocket costs to patients. However, once polyps have been found, some health plans no longer consider subsequent screenings to be preventive and require a copay. Medicare follows similar rules.”
It is always a good idea to talk to your primary care practitioner, the clinician who knows you best, about colonoscopy screening.
Click here to read the full WSJ article “More Screenings Put Dent in Colon Cancer” by Melinda Beck.
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Jonathan M. Metsch, Dr.P.H., is Clinical Professor, Preventive Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Adjunct Professor, Baruch College ( C.U.N.Y.), Rutgers School of Public Health, and Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration.
This blog shares general information about understanding and navigating the health care system. For specific medical advice about your own problems, issues and options talk to your personal physician.