We don’t talk about colorectal cancer (enough)
Talking about colorectal cancer can be uncomfortable but pushing through the discomfort is crucial to finding it early—when it is most treatable. There is no better time to start this conversation than now during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States. It is expected to cause over 50,000 deaths this year. And yet, if found early, it’s one of the most treatable forms of cancer.
The best way to find colorectal cancer early is through screening, which is covered as preventive care by most health plans including Regence. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society, regular colorectal cancer screening should start at age 45 for people at average risk. (This recently changed from 50 years old.) People who are at high risk for colorectal cancer may need to begin screening before age 45.
The most well-known screening method is colonoscopy. If the thought of a colonoscopy makes you hesitant to schedule an appointment, you have options. Speak with your doctor about an at-home stool test or a sigmoidoscopy, which is a less invasive form of screening than a colonoscopy. Getting screened is most important; find the option that works best for you.
- Talk to your family to find out your risk for colorectal cancer. Ask if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer and how old they were when it happened.
- Talk to your doctor to learn what screening method works best for you.
- Talk to your insurance company to understand your coverage for preventive screenings for colorectal cancer.
While it’s far from a favorite topic of conversation, talking about colorectal cancer is a lot easier when you know it can be caught early and treated with regular screenings. Remember, a little bit of discomfort could lead to a lot of prevention.