Screening at an earlier age benefits those at a higher risk for colorectal cancer by avoiding late detection and resulting in earlier treatment
Independence Blue Cross (Independence) now covers and recommends colorectal cancer screening as a preventive service for commercial members, with no copays or out-of-pocket costs beginning at age 45, instead of age 50. The change is in accordance with recent updates to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines.
According to a peer-reviewed study published in JAMA, colorectal cancer is estimated to become the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in people 20 to 49 by 2030. Black men, specifically, remain the most vulnerable group in the United States, diagnosed more often and at later, hard-to-treat stages. Black women are also more vulnerable, with risks that are 19 percent and 34 percent higher than white women.
“If people are screened earlier, more cancers will be prevented, and more lives will be saved,” said Richard L. Snyder, M.D., Independence executive vice president of Facilitated Health Networks and chief medical officer. “While the decision on which test to have is personal, the right test for you is one that you are willing to have.”
Colonoscopy, which is generally recommended once every 10 years for individuals with average risk of developing colorectal cancer, is by far the best-known way to screen for colorectal cancer. However, Independence does cover more frequent screening tests for colorectal cancer for those members who elect not to have a colonoscopy. Those alternative tests include:
- Fecal occult blood testing (recommended once every year)
- Highly sensitive fecal immunochemical testing (recommended once every year)
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy (recommended once every five years)
- CT colonography (recommended once every five years)
- Stool DNA testing alone or combined with FIT (recommended once every three years)