March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. that affects both men and women. If everyone age 50 years or older had regular screening test, at least 60% of deaths from this cancer could be avoided. Treatment is more effective when cancer is caught early.


Screening Saves Lives

If you’re 50 or older, getting a colorectal cancer screening test could save your life and here’s how:

  • Colorectal cancer usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum. A polyp is a growth that shouldn’t be there.
  • Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests can find polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early. When it is found early, the chance of being cured is good.


Are You At High Risk?

Your risk for colorectal cancer may be higher than average if:

  • You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease
  • You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer

Speak with your doctor about having earlier or more frequent tests if you think you’re at high risk for colorectal cancer.


What are the Symptoms?

People with a history of colon cancer or colonic polyps in their family may need to be screened at a younger age. Talk with your doctor, if you have symptoms that include:

  • Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)
  • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away
  • Losing weight and you don’t know why


Which Screening Test Should You Take?

Several tests are available to screen for colorectal cancer. Some are used alone; others are used in combination with each other. Talk with your doctor about which test or tests are best for you. These tests may require authorization based on guidelines for medical necessity. Please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or call the number listed on the back of your Health Net ID card.


Regular screening can find cancer early and save lives. If you have questions about colorectal screening, a Decision Power clinician is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-893-5597 (TTY/TDD 1-800-276-3821). You can also find more information online at




Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


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Mike Spasoff