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March 2024: Resources for Colorectal Cancer Screening

blue colorectal cancer ribbon with ICHC logo and text reading "March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month"

Resources for Colorectal Cancer Screening

 

In this post:

 

Introduction

For a lighthearted overview of the serious topic of colorectal cancer screening, check out our previous March Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month post and learn all about colorectal cancer, its symptoms, and various screening tests.

Colorectal cancer screening is an important part of aging healthily. Anyone ages 45 and older should consider screening, and if you have family history of colorectal cancer, you should discuss it with your doctor even sooner. Colorectal cancer is usually slow-growing, and often starts as otherwise harmless polyps. The sooner you complete the screening, the sooner you can remove those polyps before they become cancerous, or treat any new cancer before it becomes too complicated and causes irreparable harm to your body.

 

The role of your Primary Care Provider

Your primary care provider’s job (among other things) is to inform you of the screenings you need to stay healthy, including colorectal cancer screening. Often, they’re the provider you see the most, and the one most likely to nag you to get tests and services that don’t ever sound particularly fun, but we don’t hold that against them. They might not be the ones to perform the colorectal cancer screening, but they can place orders for a stool test or a colonoscopy, and they help coordinate your referral and ensure you receive the results and any follow-up instructions. If you have a positive test, they’re with you all the way through the rest of your care, too.

If you don’t have a primary care provider yet, give us a call at 907-455-4567 to make an appointment. We take same-day appointments, too!

 

Where can I go for colorectal cancer screening?

Your primary care provider (that’s us at ICHC!) can order stool tests or a colonoscopy. Stool tests are completed at home using special testing kits, which your doctor or primary care provider will give you when they order it. For a colonoscopy, they will place a referral to a doctor specializing in colonoscopies, such as a gastroenterologist, an Internal Medicine doctor, or a general surgeon.

In Fairbanks, colonoscopies are most commonly completed at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital or the Surgery Center of Fairbanks. Some doctors can also do them in their own offices. At ICHC, we will help you choose a doctor who accepts your insurance, and we will help you coordinate any follow-up care such as repeat colonoscopies.

 

How much does colorectal cancer screening cost?

Stool tests are generally cheaper than colonoscopies. A FIT stool test ranges in cost between $20.00 and $70.00, depending on the type, the lab, and your insurance coverage. Other types of stool tests can cost as much as $500-$600, but we don’t typically order those at ICHC.

Screening colonoscopies are generally around $1800 to $2500, depending on where you go and your insurance. Remember, your insurance will likely cover most if not all of that cost, because screening colonoscopies are considered high-value preventive services for adults and are mandated to be covered in full by most insurance plans. Remember, this is only for screening colonoscopies—if you need a colonoscopy for another reason other than cancer screening, it is most likely a diagnostic colonoscopy, which is covered under different rules.

If you’re concerned about costs, it’s very important to discuss it with your primary care provider so they can help you choose a doctor that accepts your insurance. You should also call your insurance to discuss coverage and benefits. Financial aid is also sometimes available, depending on where you go and based on your income eligibility and insurance (or lack of insurance!). 

 

Other cost resources

If you get your screening through a Federally Qualified Health Center (again, that’s us at ICHC!), you might be able to get a sliding fee discount based on your household size and income for some of these screening services. Stool tests are usually ordered through an external lab which provides a discount to our qualifying patients. Colonoscopies are sent out to external providers who may not offer a slide, but if the procedure is performed at the Foundation Health Hospital, it may be subject to their patient Financial Assistance Program.

If you’re uninsured and aren’t sure where to begin getting coverage, or need help navigating the enrollment process, Interior Community Health Center has Certified Application Counselors who can help get you enrolled and begin to get your screening tests covered.

 

Transportation

If you have a hard time getting to your medical appointments, talk to us about that, too! We can help put you in touch with transportation assistance, and we even offer and arrange some transportation services in-house if you qualify.

If you have a positive colorectal cancer screening and need a follow-up colonoscopy, there are also resources for travel and lodging for those who qualify. If you don’t have someone who can escort you after your procedure, which is required at most locations performing colonoscopies, let us know that, too! Talk to your primary care provider to be connected available resources.

 

Do I need to know anything else?

If you’re interested in colorectal cancer screening, give your primary care provider a call. If you’re a current patient of ICHC, you can leave a message for your provider’s assistant to ask about screening, or send a message through the patient portal. If you don’t have a primary care provider yet, give us a call at 907-455-4567 to schedule an appointment!

 

Author
ICHC snowflake logo The Quality Team @ ICHC The Quality department at ICHC brings you helpful information about your healthcare in Fairbanks and Healy, AK. We are proudly committed to ensuring high-quality "healthcare with a heart!"

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