March is Colon Cancer Awareness month. Every year, Blair Gastro works to heighten the awareness in our area regarding the importance of getting screened for colon cancer. This year, we are focusing on the expanded age range for when people should get screened for colon cancer. In May of 2021, new guidelines were published by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), recommending that colon cancer screening begin at the age of 45. These new guidelines enable younger people to be screened, increasing the ability for Blair Gastro physicians to detect pre-cancerous lesions and polyps earlier. This early detection and removal will reduce the mortality rate for colorectal cancer. The guidelines follow a recommendation by the American Cancer Society in 2020, that the age for screening be reduced due to the alarming rise in the incidence of colon cancer in patients younger than 50 years of age. In a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) it was reported that by 2030, colon cancer is projected to be the leading cause of cancer deaths in patients ages 20 to 49 years.
In 2022, all health insurance plans are covering screening colonoscopies starting at the age of 45 at 100% of the cost. It is a requirement of both private insurers and Medicare to cover the costs of colorectal cancer screening tests. The age to begin screening for colon cancer has been 50. Now, with these new recommendations, insurance companies are lowering the age to 45. Blair Gastro has seen a 300% growth in the number of patients scheduling screening colonoscopies between the ages of 45 and 50 over the past three months.
In order to make it easier for patients to understand their colon cancer screening options, Blair Gastroenterology Associates has developed the Colon Cancer Screening Center to help patients determine the best choice for colon cancer screening. There are nine board certified gastroenterologists at Blair Gastro who will perform a thorough risk assessment. This assessment includes a review of your family, social and personal history to determine which screening test is appropriate. The options available for screening are Colonoscopy (which is considered the “Gold Standard” for colon cancer prevention), Cologuard and Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). The screening colonoscopy is the “Gold Standard” because it is the most effective and only method for physicians to identify and remove lesions and polyps that are pre-cancerous.
Have your primary care physician send you to the Blair Gastro Colon Cancer Screening Center for a thorough determination of the best option for your colon cancer screening. You can also call Blair Gastro directly to schedule your appointment without a referral. Call our office at 814-946-5469. Find more information regarding the Blair Gastro Colon Cancer Screening Center at www. BlairGastro.com.