Know your colorectal cancer screening benefits
Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Colorectal cancer is also one of the slowest-progressing cancers, which provides better opportunity for early detection and successful treatment.
Most HMSA medical plans cover colorectal cancer screening services for members age 50 and older. We encourage you to check your Guide to Benefits for complete information on your plan's cancer screening benefits. You may also contact HMSA to find out if colorectal cancer screening is a benefit of your plan.
Colorectal screening benefits may include the following tests:
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT): Checks for blood in the stool.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A doctor inserts a short, thin, lighted tube into the rectum to check for cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions, such as polyps, in the rectum and lower colon.
- Colonoscopy: Similar to the sigmoidoscopy, except a longer tube examines the entire colon. Most polyps are removed during the process.
Any of these screening tests may be ordered by a physician at any time for diagnostic purposes when a patient shows signs and/or symptoms of a colorectal condition or disease that can be confirmed with one or a combination of these tests. We also encourage you to read more about the difference between screening and diagnostic tests.
For more information about colorectal cancer screenings, please read these two articles published in HMSA's Island Scene magazine: