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Colon Cancer Screening

A. Steven Fleisher, MD, Chief of Gastroenterology, with a patient.

The MedStar Health Cancer Network has joined forces with the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable by pledging to support the “80% by 2018” initiative – a nationwide goal to increase colorectal cancer screening rates to 80% in the next two years. Learn more about the partnership

The Facts about Colon Cancer

Colon cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people aged 50 years or older. In the United States, it is the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer—but it doesn't have to be. The exact cause of colon cancer is not known. That is why it is important to get regular screenings.

A screening test is used to look for a disease when a person doesn't have symptoms. Colon cancer screening can find polyps, or abnormal growths, before they turn into cancer so they can be removed. Screening can also find colon cancer early, when there is a greater chance that treatment will be most effective.

Regular colon cancer screening tests can help prevent disease and save lives. Screening can find precancerous polyps—abnormal growths in the colon or rectum—so that they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colon cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most successful.

Screening Guidelines

Colon cancer screening tests can help prevent disease and save lives. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends the following screenings for colon cancer beginning at age 50 through age 75:

  • A colonoscopy, which uses a flexible, lighted tube to look at the interior walls of the rectum and the entire colon, every 10 years.
  • A flexible sigmoidoscopy, which uses a flexible, lighted tube to look at the interior walls of the rectum and part of the colon, every five years.
  • A high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), which checks for hidden blood in the stool, every year.

Many doctors today prefer a colonoscopy for detecting colorectal cancer because it lets them see the entire colon. Plus, if your doctor sees something unusual, polyps or tissue samples can be taken out right away.

If you or someone you know has a colon problem or if you need a screening test, call the MedStar Health Cancer Network for an appointment at 877-715-HOPE. Our expertise can make a big difference in getting the right diagnosis and the right treatment, right away. 

No Cost Screening

If you are 50 or older, live in Baltimore City or Anne Arundel County and have a low income, you may be eligible for a no cost screening. Screenings are offered at three of our local hospitals, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, MedStar Harbor Hospital, and MedStar Union Memorial Hospital with transportation offered to and from appointments.

Our expertise can make a big difference in getting the right diagnosis and the right treatment, right away. Eligibility and coverage details for no cost screenings are provided below, or you can call 410-350-8216 or 410-350-3444 (Spanish) to see if you qualify. 

Eligibility

  • A Baltimore City or Anne Arundel County resident
  • Age 50 or older
  • Under 50 with symptoms or a family history of colon cancer
  • Living on a limited income

Coverage

  • Health Insurance: We will pay for what Medicare, Medicaid and Commercial Insurance doesn’t, including: deductibles, co-insurance and out-of-pocket expenses.
  • No Health Insurance: We will pay all the costs.

Learn more from our health experts about colorectal cancer screenings.