Screening Options for Colorectal Cancer

Sarah Jane Rodriguez

May 7, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death among adults in the U.S. With proper screening and treatment, it is possible to survive. There are more than a million survivors of colorectal cancer in the U.S. today. Screening for colorectal cancer is crucial because it is easier to treat when it is found early. Additionally, many people with colorectal cancer have no signs or symptoms.

High Option and Consumer Driven Option members pay nothing for colorectal cancer screenings when visiting an In-Network provider. If a surgical procedure is needed, regular plan benefits apply.

  • Risk factors that may increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer include:
  • Being overweight or obese and physically inactive
  • Diet with low-fiber and high-fat diets
  • Alcohol use
  • More common after age 50
  • Family history
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions and type 2 diabetes
  • Being African American, or Ashkenazi Jewish of Eastern European descent

Screening options for colorectal cancer include tests that look for signs of cancer in the stool and visual exams of the colon and rectum. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved testing includes:

Colonoscopy: CDC recommended

A colonoscopy cancer test is when a doctor uses a long, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers.

Before the procedure you will need to bowel prep, which is a process to clean out the colon so the doctor can see inside clearly. The prep may include fasting and drinking a liquid laxative. Most people do not feel any pain during the tests. If nothing is found, you can generally go up to 10 years without another test. As always, please consult your physician to see if they recommend you undergo the procedure.

Stool DNA test (Cologuard): FDA approved Cologuard is a new type of at-home colon cancer test. It is available by prescription, and is ideal for some people looking for an alternative to a colonoscopy. One advantage of Cologuard is that it does not require any special diets, bowel prep, laxatives or enemas. The patient collects a stool sample at home and mails it to a lab for analysis. Cologuard is not suitable for everyone. Some people will need to follow it up with a colonoscopy. To qualify for Cologuard, you must:

  • Be 50 to 85 years old
  • Have no symptoms of colon cancer
  • Have no history of IBD, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis
  • Have no personal or family history of pre-cancerous polyps or colon cancer
  • Have no family history of genetic syndromes linked with colorectal cancer

Whether or not Cologuard is right for you, be sure to ask your doctor about getting tested for colorectal cancer.

To find an In-Network provider, please visit:; click “Are your doctors in the network.”

For further information, please go to:,,

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