BATON ROUGE, La. – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana encourages everyone to talk to their doctors about their risk factors and what kind of testing is right for them.
Nationally, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death for men and women. According to the Louisiana Tumor Registry, Louisiana has the country’s fourth-highest death rate from colorectal cancer. The state unfortunately also has a below-average rate of eligible patients being screened for colorectal cancer.
“Screening saves lives, but people need to get tested,” said Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Vindell Washington. “I know colon health is an uncomfortable thing to talk about. Still, have a conversation with your doctor about your medical history and family risk factors, and ask when you should start screening. It could save your life.”
The U.S. Preventive Health Services Task Force recommends everyone start colorectal cancer screening at age 50. People who have a family history of colorectal cancer or certain other conditions like colitis might need to begin screening at younger ages.
Colorectal cancer screening is effective at catching the disease in early stages, when treatment is more likely to be successful at preventing the cancer from developing or spreading. Screening can also pick up on pre-cancerous polyps, which doctors can remove before they turn into cancer.
“Colonoscopy is the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening, but there are other screening options, even tests you can do at home,” Washington said. “The most important thing is to be screened. Talk to your doctor about which kind of test is best for you.”
Most health plans and Medicare plans cover colorectal cancer screening at low or $0 out-of-pocket costs.
Many health plans also have shopping tools that let you see what colorectal cancer screening costs at different providers near you. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana members can use Smart Shopper, at bcbsla.com/SmartShopper, to see what they can expect to pay for colonoscopies or other screenings at different facilities in their networks.
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or another type of cancer, Blue Cross’ care team is here to stand strong with you through every step of your health journey. Health coaches can support you with personalized information, guidance and encouragement. And, it doesn’t cost anything to work with a health coach. Visit bcbsla.com/Stronger to learn more or sign up for health coaching.
See a Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month video from Dr. Washington, encouraging everyone to know their risks and ask their doctors about screening.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. We invest both time and money in the communities we serve, supporting the health and wellbeing of Louisianians through more than 200 charitable organizations.
With our subsidiaries, HMO Louisiana and Southern National Life, we provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to one out of four Louisiana residents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana also provides Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage plans and is a partner in offering the Healthy Blue Medicaid Managed care plan. Louisiana is the only state where we operate, with offices in every major region to serve our customers.
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a tax-paying non-profit health insurer. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
To learn more, visit our website at www.bcbsla.com.