MARCH is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

At AFM, we take colon cancer very seriously. It is impossible to overestimate how important it is to have colon cancer screening. For us as your primary care physicians, it is heartbreaking when someone develops colon cancer, especially if they have not been on track with recommended screening, which can PREVENT the progression of polyps to cancer by removing polyps. Essentially, we recommend colonoscopy based on the guidelines of the American College of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Brad Abrahamson is an experienced physician with Associates in Family Medicine and has performed 2500+ colonoscopies for AFM patients.

Call Associates in Family Medicine Lemay Office, (970) 484-1757 to schedule with Dr. Abrahamson.

For more info on Screen for Life, go to

Colorectal cancer screening saves lives in two important ways:

1. By finding and removing precancerous polyps before they become cancerous

2. By detecting the cancer early when it is most treatable

Caucasian men and women should undergo testing for the disease beginning at age 50, 45 if African American. People with a high risk for colorectal cancer and those with a family history (first degree relative with aggressive polyps or cancer by age 60) should talk with us about being screened at an earlier age. A study by leading cancer groups found that colorectal cancer deaths have declined nearly five percent (2002-2004), in part due to prevention through screening and the removal of precancerous polyps.

Insurance coverage for colorectal cancer screenings:

Check with your individual insurance plan to verify your benefits.

Not only does colorectal cancer screening save lives, but it also is cost effective. Studies have shown that the cost-effectiveness of colorectal screening is consistent with many other kinds of preventive services and is lower than some common interventions. It is much less expensive to remove a polyp during screening than to try to treat advanced colorectal cancer.

Coverage of colorectal cancer screening tests is mandated by the Affordable Care Act, but that doesn’t apply to health plans that were in place before it was passed. Those plans are covered by state laws, which vary, and other federal laws.

“>Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)covers several types of colorectal cancer screening tests to help find precancerous growths or find cancer early, when treatment is most effective. One or more of these tests may be covered:

Fecal occult blood test:Medicare covers this lab test each year for those 50 or older.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy: Medicare covers this test once every 4 years for most 50 or older.

Colonoscopy: Medicare covers this test once every 2 years if you are at high risk for colorectal cancer or once every 10 years if you are at average risk.

Barium enema:When this test is used instead of a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, Medicare covers it once every 4 years if you’re 50 or over and once every 2 years if you’re at high risk for colorectal cancer.

Virtual Colonoscopy is not covered by Medicare as an initial screening test.

Check with your individual insurance plan to verify your benefits.

Types of Screening Tests Several different screening tests can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. Each can be used alone, or sometimes in combination with each other. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 50–75 using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. Talk to your doctor about which test or tests are right for you. The decision to be screened after age 75 should be made on an individual basis. If you are older than 75, ask your doctor if you should be screened.

Colonoscopy—This is similar to flex sig, except the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. Colonoscopy also is used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests.

High-Sensitivity FOBT (Stool Test)—There are two types of FOBT—one uses the chemical guaiac, while the other (the fecal immunochemical test, or FIT) uses antibodies to find blood in the stool. You receive a test kit from your health care provider. At home, you use a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool. You return the test to the doctor or a lab, where stool samples are checked for blood.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (Flex Sig)—The doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum, and checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon. This test may be used in combination with the FOBT.

Barium Enema with Air Contrast — A chalky substance, which shows up on X-ray, is given as an enema. Air is then pumped into the colon causing it to expand. This allows X-ray films to take pictures of the colon. Laxatives must be used the night before the exam to clean.

CT Colonography (also referred to as virtual colonoscopy) — A small tube is placed in the rectum and air is pumped into the colon to inflate the bowel. Then a special CT scan is used to image the colon. Recent studies show that it is effective in identifying medium to large polyps, but is ineffective in identifying small polyps and it may also miss flat polyps. CT colonography may be best for low-risk patients who cannot undergo or who failed aconventional colonoscopy. The same bowel prep as conventional colonoscopy is required and it does not use sedation.

For more info on Screen for Life, go to