Colorectal cancer screening: one of the best weapons in your health toolbox

Emory Report | April 30, 2021

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Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful tools against colorectal cancer — and involves no out-of-pocket cost for employees on an Emory medical plan. Talk with your provider about when to schedule an exam.

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Regular colorectal cancer screening through colonoscopy is one of the most powerful tools against colorectal cancer.

A colonoscopy is the examination of the large bowel and part of the small bowel. Utilizing a small camera on a flexible tube, doctors screen for polyps or bowel cancer and help diagnose symptoms such as unexplained diarrhea, abdominal pain or blood in the stool.

This screening can help find cancer or pre-cancer (polyps) in those who have no signs or symptoms. Given that polyps can take 10 years or more to develop into cancer, regular screenings can help prevent the disease. If you are 45 years or older and at average risk of colon cancer (no colon cancer risk factors other than age), your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy every 10 years or sometimes sooner.

“Prevention through colorectal cancer screening is the best thing we can do, since some people who have colorectal cancer have no signs or symptoms,” says Christina Wu, gastroenterologist and medical oncologist at Winship Cancer Institute. “If you are over 45 years old or have a family member who has had colorectal cancer, reach out to your primary care physician to see if a screening is right for you.”

If you are covered by an Emory medical plan, there is no out-of-pocket cost for a colonoscopy, which is considered preventive care. It is covered at 100% if in-network providers are used through Tier 1 and Tier 2 for the Aetna HSA and POS plans; out–of-network coverage will be subject to plan provisions after satisfying the deductible. A colonoscopy also is covered at 100% if you have the Kaiser Permanente Plan.

Visit Emory’s website on preventive exams to learn more.