Options – There are several types of screening tests that look for colorectal cancer or pre-cancerous growths, called polyps. One simple test checks for blood in the stool. Free stool test kits are available at pharmacies across Lincoln during the months of March and April through a partnership with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. Other screening tests include the colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. Which screening test is best for you, when you should start screening, and how often you should have a test are all dependent upon your risk factors. Learn how to identify your cancer risk factors here. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) offers a Colorectal Cancer Risk Assessment Tool designed for use by doctors and other health providers with their patients. Click here to learn more.
Payment – When recommended by your healthcare provider, preventive screening for colorectal cancer is usually paid for by insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act, private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. If you do not have payment coverage through one of these programs, you may be eligible for assistance through the Nebraska Colon Cancer Screening Program which is affiliated with the Every Woman Matters Program. Both programs are offered by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and can provide payment assistance or referrals to other nonprofit payment assistance programs. If you need help to obtain screening, click here.
Follow-up – It’s no use having a screening test if you do not follow-up if the test comes back “abnormal.” Don’t let the fear of a diagnosis or impending costs keep you from following-through. If you don’t know where to turn, contact these local resources or the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. The Health Department is a member of the Lancaster County Crusade Against Cancer, a local coalition of people and programs to help you overcome any barriers that stand in the way of prompt diagnosis and treatment. Remember, cancer caught early is often curable.
Warning signs – Don’t delay. See your provider right away if you notice any of these colorectal cancer warning signs:
- Blood in or on your stool
- Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away
- Unintended weight loss