People used to joke that you got two presents on your 50th birthday: a party, and an appointment for a colon exam.
But that’s not true anymore. People under 50 can also get colon cancer, as everyone realized when actor Chadwick Boseman died at just 43.
In fact, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery says to get your first screening at 45 if you have a higher chance of getting colon or rectal cancer.*
How your exam could save your adult children
Anyone can get colon cancer, but the risks aren’t the same for everyone. Your kids may be at higher risk if you or their other parent, sister or brother has a history of:
- Colon polyps
- Colon cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Cancer of the ovaries
- Cancer of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus)
Your kids also have a higher chance of getting colon cancer if they’re African American or Hispanic. Or if they have some very rare inherited diseases.
The only way you can tell your kids if your colon is healthy is if you check it out for yourself. The best way to screen for colon polyps and cancer? A colonoscopy. That’s an exam of the inside of the large intestine. It uses a flexible tube with a lens at the end.
If your doctor does find polyps, tell your kids to think about getting screened themselves. The sooner they find colon cancer, the easier it is to care for.
Healthy habits — make them a family tradition
Exams aren’t the only way to lower your chances of getting colon cancer. Healthy habits are important, too:
- Keeping your weight down
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Skipping high-fat foods
- Staying away from tobacco
- Going easy on alcohol (no more than one drink per day for women; for men, no more than two per day; learn more at cancer.org)
Of course, you can’t always control what your adult children eat or drink. But you can schedule a screening for yourself any time. Do it today. And give your kids an extra bit of information that could help protect them.
Will Medicare cover a colon cancer screening?
Original Medicare covers these tests at 100% of the Medicare-approved amount when you get them from a provider who accepts Medicare.
- Fecal occult blood test
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
You pay nothing (no deductible or coinsurance).
Medicare Advantage plans must also cover them without applying deductibles, copays, or coinsurance when you:
- See a network provider, and
- Meet Medicare’s rules for the service
Schedule your colon cancer screening.
- Medicare Interactive
- American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.