It's probably time to start thinking about screening.
Since you answered "Yes" to one of the previous five questions, it is probably a good idea to reach out to your gastroenterologist and ask them if you are eligible for colorectal cancer screening.
Everyone should be scoped at least every 10 years beginning at the age of 45. However, the Center for Disease Control recommends those with the following conditions to be scoped before 45 or at closer intervals:
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
Family history of colorectal cancer
There are certain genetic, age, and lifestyle factors that put some people more at risk of developing colon cancer than others. If you fall into one of these categories, you should be especially careful of your risk of developing colon cancer and be sure to seek regular screening:
Lack of regular exercise
What do we mean by "screening?"
The traditional colonoscopy is the "gold standard".
With a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist will be able to easily spot cancer, as well as remove precancerous polyps before they become a pain in the butt.
That being said, there are other options.
With new medical breakthroughs, there are now other, less-invasive, methods of colorectal cancer screening.
Stool tests are often cheaper and less-invasive, but come at the cost of being less effective in detecting colon cancer. If your doctor finds anything, you're likely subject to a colonoscopy anyway, so your GI can get a better look at the tumor and possibly remove it if small enough.
Guaiac-based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT)
An at home method to test whether there is presence of blood in stool using chemical guaiac. Using a stick or brush, you obtain a small sample of stool and return the kit to your healthcare provider or lab where the stool is then tested for blood.
Virtual Colonoscopy (CT Colonography)
A Virtual Colonoscopy is a procedure in which x-ray images are collected using computed tomography in order to make a series pictures of the entire colon. It allows the series of images to be displayed on a computer screen to be analyzed by the healthcare provider in order to detect abnormalities or polyps.
Where Can I Get
Call your GI.
You can get screened for colon cancer at a local gastroenterologist's office. Ask your primary care physician for a referral to a gastroenterologist or see a list of top gastroenterologists here. Make sure you find a gastroenterologist that is covered by your insurance so you are covered financially.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that both public and private insurers alike cover the cost of colorectal cancer screening. If you are past the age of 45, and your insurance plan was activated after 2010 (when the ACA was passed), colorectal cancer screening should be covered by your insurance. If you are under the age of 45, and your insurance does not cover screening for colorectal cancer, they may still cover "diagnostic colonoscopies", which are colonoscopies prescribed by your doctor if you are experiencing possible symptoms of colorectal cancer.
If this is not the case, and your insurance does not cover the costs associated with colorectal cancer screening, or you are uninsured, there are often programs available to assist in the cost of colon cancer screening. Listed below are some of these programs.