Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the large intestine and can be very dangerous without the proper treatment. February is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and if you haven’t been screened recently, now is the time to talk to your doctor about doing so. Medicare covers regular colorectal cancer screenings as well as some forms of colorectal cancer treatment – here’s what you need to know.

What is Colorectal Cancer? 

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Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that affects either the colon or the rectum, which are the two organs that make up the large intestine. Colorectal cancer can affect different types of cells inside the intestine. Usually, colorectal cancer is an adinocarcinoma, meaning that it affects the cells that lubricate the inside of the intestine. However, it can also affect the immune system cells, blood vessels, hormone-creating cells, and more. Colorectal cancer typically starts as a polyp in the intestine. Not all polyps are pre-cancerous, but regular cancer screenings are important for detecting the ones that are. Over time, cancerous polyps can spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body.

What Causes Colorectal Cancer? 

While there is no distinct cause of colorectal cancer, there are many different factors that have been linked to it. People with a family history of cancer are more likely to develop colorectal cancer. Heavy drinking and smoking may also increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer, as can eating a diet that is high in red meat. Certain health conditions may also put you at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer, including irritable bowel syndrome and type II diabetes. Being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle may also increase your risk. If you have any of these risk factors, it’s important to talk to your doctor about ways to prevent colorectal cancer in the future.

Medicare and Colorectal Cancer

Medicare Part B covers regular colorectal cancer screenings. If you’re at high risk for colorectal cancer, you’ll qualify for a screening every two years, while those at an average risk will qualify for tests once every 10 years. While it’s recommended that you start regular tests at age 50, there’s no minimum age requirement for these tests. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may qualify for testing more often. Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage beyond what Original Medicare covers. If you’re diagnosed with cancer, Original Medicare will cover many aspects of your treatment, including both inpatient and outpatient services.

Colorectal cancer can happen to anybody, which is why it’s so important to get screened regularly, particularly if you’re an older adult. If you’re interested in learning more about your Medicare options, contact Time for 65’s licensed partnered agents today. Fill out this form or give us a call today to learn more about how we can help.