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Here’s What You Need To Know About Men and Colon Cancer Screenings

    • March 14, 2024
    • Disease Prevention and Treatment
    • 6 minute read

If you’re like most older men, getting a colonoscopy is not high on your list of fun activities. And while it may not be as enjoyable as fishing, woodworking or golf, this preventive health screening is worth prioritizing. Consider this fact about men and colon cancer: Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men in the United States.

But there’s good news: If it’s been awhile since your last senior colon cancer test — or you’ve never had one at all — you may be pleasantly surprised how much has changed in recent years. Here’s what you need to know.

Advanced Colon Cancer Screening Options for Men

While the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening is still a colonoscopy, you may be eligible to screen from the comfort of your own home, or by using the latest technology.

At-home testing

At-home stool tests are designed to detect the presence of blood (and possibly even altered DNA), and they’re easy to do. Just use the kit ordered by your ArchWell Health provider to collect a stool sample and send it to a lab for screening. Note that if potential hot spots are detected, you will need a full colonoscopy. At-home screening is not recommended for men who have a high risk of colon cancer or a history of polyps.

CT colonography

Did you know there’s a way to screen for colon cancer using computer programs? Computed tomography (CT) colonography involves taking X-rays and a CT scan to create 3D images of the colon and rectum. This test only takes about 15 minutes, and it doesn’t require sedation. Keep in mind that if the CT colonography detects potential abnormalities, you will need a full colonoscopy.

When Men Should Get Screened for Colon Cancer

ArchWell Health recommends that men at average risk of colon cancer get their first screening by age 45 and continue screening up to age 75. If you are at high risk, talk to your ArchWell Health provider about screening after age 75.

Here’s how often to get screened, based on the method used:

  • At-home stool test: Every 1 – 3 years
  • CT colonography: Every 5 years
  • Colonoscopy: Every 10 years

If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, or a personal history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings.

Men and Colon Cancer: 10 Reasons to Schedule a Colonoscopy Today

Don’t worry if you’re not a candidate for an at-home stool test or CT colonography. While it’s normal to feel some trepidation about a colonoscopy, rest assured that the procedure is a safe and effective way to prevent colon cancer.

Need more convincing? Here are 10 reasons to schedule your colonoscopy without delay.

1. Colonoscopy prep is easier now

In the past, preparing for a colonoscopy meant drinking a gallon of unpleasant-tasting laxative solution. Now, there are low-volume alternatives, some of which taste more like a sports drink than a laxative. Another newer prep option involves consuming 24 tablets and plenty of water. Either way, the prep is much more manageable than it used to be.

2. The liquid fills you up

Concerned about fasting before your colonoscopy? You’d be surprised how filling the laxative solution and/or water can be. And you can stay motivated during your prep by planning the delicious meal you’ll enjoy after the procedure is done.

3. Your dignity is a priority

Senior colon cancer tests may not be part of your regular routine, but the doctor completing your procedure does them every day — so there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

4. The procedure isn’t painful

One of the best parts of this procedure is that you can sleep right through it. You will be given IV sedation to minimize any discomfort and help you relax. You shouldn’t feel pain during the colonoscopy, and you may not even remember it afterward.

5. It won’t take long

Whether you’re working, taking care of grandkids or enjoying retirement activities, life can get busy. Fortunately, a colonoscopy won’t take much time out of your schedule. The procedure takes an hour or less, and you can usually leave the medical facility after spending about an hour in recovery.

6. It’s covered under most health plans

Not only do many private insurance plans cover the cost of colorectal cancer screenings, but Medicare also includes coverage for this important preventive care. Most Medicare Advantage plans cover colonoscopies once every 10 years for those at average risk of colorectal cancer, and once every two years for those at high risk.

7. Colon cancer can be asymptomatic

Think you’re in the clear because you don’t have symptoms of colon cancer? In many cases, symptoms don’t manifest until the cancer is more advanced. But preventive screening can detect disease in the very early stages, when it’s easier to treat.

8. Colon cancer can appear with no family history

While older men with a family history of colon cancer may need more frequent screenings, the unfortunate reality is that most colorectal cancers are found in people with no family history of the disease. So even if a problem seems unlikely, get screened to be sure.

9. It’s an all-in-one procedure

A colonoscopy offers more than a screening — if your doctor finds polyps during the procedure, they will remove them right then and there. This treats precancerous polyps completely, before they can progress to colon cancer. If there are potential cancer sites, your physician will discuss further procedures with you.

10. A colonoscopy could save your life

Do you want to spend as many golden years as possible with the people you love? Since colorectal cancer may be cured when detected early, a colonoscopy could literally be a lifesaver. More than 90% of patients with cancer that hasn’t spread past the colon or rectum are alive five years after diagnosis.

A Word from ArchWell Health

With advanced screening options like at-home tests and simpler colonoscopy prep, it’s easier than ever to safeguard your health. Whether you’re screening for colon cancer at home or at a medical facility, the key is — don't delay. Reach out to your ArchWell Health care team today to schedule this essential preventive health screening for seniors today.

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