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March 3, 2023 Health & Wellness

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is a topic that can be uncomfortable to talk about. In fact, it is sometimes made fun of in the media. Recently, there was a television skit that was poking fun of a new way of colorectal cancer screening. But it’s not a funny topic and we must talk about it.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. It is estimated that there will be approximately 153,000 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed in the United States this year. Colorectal cancer is also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States in both men and women. It is estimated that 52,000 people will die of this type of cancer in 2023.

The death rate, in both men and women, has been dropping over the last several decades. Why? Because many people are being screened on a regular basis. Screening allows for polyps to be discovered early and removed before they develop into cancers. Screening results in many types of colorectal cancers being detected earlier, which, in some cases, means they are easier to treat. And because of research being done, treatments for colorectal cancers have greatly improved. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about colorectal cancer risks, screening, and treatment if you would like to learn more.

If you’ve ever been to a Senior Medicare Patrol presentation, you know that we often encourage you to talk directly with your healthcare provider about all sorts of things. Colorectal cancer risk and screening is something that we would encourage you to add to your list. Your healthcare provider will be able to talk to you about your concerns and possible risks and determine the best screening approach for you. If cancer is detected during the screening, you can discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider as well.

Be cautious of any phone calls that you might receive, out of the blue, with the caller asking about a history of cancer in your family or offering a genetic test, our advice would be for you to hang up. Don’t provide any personal information, including your Medicare number, just hang up. The fraudsters are promising all sorts of things to Medicare beneficiaries, in exchange for their Medicare numbers. This often leads to Medicare-related fraud scams with claims being filed with your Medicare number that are not ordered by your healthcare provider, not needed or wanted by the beneficiary, and in some cases, not even covered by Medicare. Again, your best action is to talk directly with your healthcare provider about all your concerns and steer clear of the people who call you out of the blue. Most often, they are up to no good.

Medicare does provide several different types of colorectal cancer screenings, depending on your risk and what is determined most appropriate by your healthcare provider. If it is determined that you are at high risk for colorectal cancer, Medicare will cover a screening colonoscopy every 24 months. If you are not at high risk, Medicare will cover this type of screening every 120 months, or 10 years. This Medicare & You video helps to explain some of the things that Medicare covers related to colorectal cancer.

While there is no cost to you for screening, if a polyp or other tissue is found and removed, there will be a charge for doctor services and hospital coinsurance. It is important for you to understand the costs you might incur, should the screening become more involved. It is also important for you to review your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits statements following all doctor visits and procedures to make sure that all claims submitted match services received. If you have questions about your statements or are concerned about possibly suspicious claims, please connect with the Wisconsin Senior Medicare Patrol by calling our toll-free Helpline, (888) 818-2611. There is a team of friendly, trained people located right here in Wisconsin, that will be happy to assist you.