What Is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer is a common type of cancer that affects the colon (large intestine). It’s one of the top five leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and it’s estimated that it will claim more than 51,000 lives in 2019.1 The risk of developing colon cancer is slightly higher for men (4.49%) than it is for women (4.15%).1
Why Is Colon Cancer Screening Important?
Colon cancer is often curable when detected at an early stage, and the only way to detect it is to get screened. Many times, there are no early warning signs of colon cancer, so people may feel great and still have colon cancer.
Before colon cancer begins, small tissue growths called polyps often develop in the colon, and can become cancerous over time if untreated. By screening, detecting, and removing polyps early, colon cancer may be cured or even prevented entirely.
What Are the Current Colon Screening Guidelines?
Most people age 50 and older should have regular screenings to detect polyps earlier, when removing and treating them can be most effective. People with a personal history of polyps, colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease, or those who have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, are at a higher risk and may need to be tested more frequently, or start testing before age 50.
There are four tests to screen for colon cancer, and you should talk with your doctor about which one is best for you. Learn more about the different screenings at ahealthyme.com.
How to Lower Your Risk
• Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
• Eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruits daily
• Avoid tobacco and, if you drink alcohol, drink in moderation
• Maintain a healthy weight
What Resources Does Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Offer Members?
At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, it’s important that all our members age 50 and older get regular screenings to detect colon cancer. To help increase member and physician awareness of and participation in regular colorectal cancer screenings, we’ve developed a program to remind our members in the appropriate age group to get screened. Members who are overdue for their screening may receive a reminder from us, and we work with physicians to educate and encourage them to talk to their patients about the importance of colon cancer screening.
Our Care Management Program offers ongoing support for members with chronic conditions and complicated medical issues. Care managers will reach out to members who may have had a recent change in health, a condition they may need help managing, or a recent hospitalization. Participation in this program is completely optional, is offered at no additional cost to members, and won’t affect health plan benefits.
- Know what to ask your doctor about colon screenings
- Visit the Blue Cross ahealthyme.com to learn more about colon cancer risk factors and treatments
- Access the CDC page for colon cancer screening
- For more information about colon cancer, call the American Cancer Society toll-free at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit the American Cancer Society page for colon cancer
1 American Cancer Society, “Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer.” Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html.