Get over it - get screened for colon cancer

What’s scarier than colon cancer? Getting screened for it. That’s what older adults are saying, anyway, according to a recent study. Individuals would rather not know whether they have a potentially life-threatening form of cancer than go through the perceived discomfort of a colonoscopy.

We challenge you to give peace of mind a chance.

Cancer screenings save lives. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – and no better time for Providence Health Plans to emphasize the importance of getting screened. A colonoscopy can help identify abnormal growths, which can be removed before they turn cancerous. If cancer is present, a colonoscopy can help catch it early, when treatment is most effective. Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S., yet men and women routinely avoid getting screened because, more than a diagnosis, they fear the test itself.

Consider the following reasons why people don’t get screened – and the argument against each. If you’re 50 or older or have a history of colon cancer in your family, we hope you’ll get in touch with your medical provider and schedule your screening today.

  1. You don’t think cancer will happen to you. No one thinks anything unfortunate will happen to them, but it can and does. Being proactive is better than being reactive. 
  2. You don’t have symptoms. Most people who have colon cancer – or polyps that could potentially turn cancerous – have no symptoms. Getting screened, then, is a great way to stay ahead of cancer. Once symptoms are present – such as rectal bleeding, persistent abdominal discomfort, fatigue and unexplained weight loss – the cancer can be in advanced stages.
  3. You’re embarrassed to get screened. We know the preparation and procedure can be unnerving. Really, though, it’s a day of cleansing, followed by the colonoscopy – for which most people are sedated. Yes, it’s invasive, but you’ll be knocked out for most of it – and it could save your life.
  4. You think you can’t afford a screening. Health care reform now makes getting a colonoscopy affordable. Depending on your membership enrollment with Providence Health Plans, your colonoscopy may be covered in large part or in full. Log on to myProvidence to check your benefit.
  5. You don’t know the health benefits. Colon cancer screening by colonoscopy has reduced the risk of colon cancer by 77 percent in the past decade. Screening is critical to early detection.

Once you make the decision – and the appointment – to get screened, you’ll be pleased to know that, depending on the findings, you may not need another colonoscopy for five to 10 years.

For more information, visit our member page or the Providence Health & Services Colon Cancer Resource Center.