Contact: Laura Shea
Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center is joining the National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month movement this March by promoting colorectal cancer screening. According to the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), we are making progress in the war against colorectal cancer. Death rates from the disease have been dropping since the early 1990s, and incidence rates have been declining steadily over the past decade in both men and women. These great strides can be attributed to prevention and early detection through screening and increasingly effective treatment. However, there is still more work to be done.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colorectal cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people ages 50 and older. Dr. Ahmad Kadhim, a gastroenterologist at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, stated, “Colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented because colorectal cancer screening allows doctors to find and remove hidden growths (polyps) before they become cancer.” He continued, “Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether.”
The NCCRT tells us that researchers believe that half of the colorectal cancer deaths could potentially be prevented if everyone age 50 and older received recommended screenings. Dr. Kadhim stated, “People over age 50 have the highest risk of colorectal cancer. You may also be at higher risk if you are African American, smoke, or have a family history of colorectal cancer.” He continued, “There are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer—that’s why it’s so important to get screened.” Other healthy steps people can take in addition to screening to help prevent colorectal cancer include getting plenty of physical activity and eating healthy, and avoid tobacco use and exposure.
According to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), under the Affordable Health Care Act, some specific preventive healthcare tests are completely covered by insurance with no-copay or deductible charged to the patient. Other preventive tests may require only a co-pay or deductible charge to the patient.
Dr. Chris Brandy, surgeon at Claxton-Hepburn stated, “A screening colonoscopy is done if the patient is without symptoms and is at average risk for colon cancer, and has no personal or immediate family history of colon cancer or polyps.” He continued, “It is done every ten years for anyone age 50 to look for colon polyps.” According to the AGA, if polyps are not found, the colonoscopy and anesthesia are covered 100% by health insurance. The patient is not charged a copay or deductible.
In the instance of a personal history of polyps from a prior colonoscopy, or in the presence of colon symptoms (such as pain, bleeding, or change in bowel habits), a colonoscopy is done as a surveillance or diagnostic procedure. In this case, a copay or deductible may apply.
Through a generous grant from the St. Lawrence Cancer Fund, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Dr. Brandy, Dr. Kadhim, and anesthesiologist Dr. Myriam Beniamin, free colonoscopies are provided to underinsured or uninsured individuals who meet the screening guidelines.
For more information about Dr. Brandy, Dr. Kadhim and colonoscopy services provided at Claxton-Hepburn, visit us on the web at www.claxtonhepburn.org. Your tomorrow is worth defending.