Calyx Health, a doctor’s office exclusively for Medicare seniors, is located in South Shore Center. To schedule an appointment, call 402-1471 or visit calyxhealth.com.
Office Has Options for Colonoscopy
Though colorectal cancer cases have been steadily decreasing for the past two decades, it remains the third-most-common cancer in both men and women — with 90 percent of cases in people age 50 or older.
Colonoscopy is the gold standard when it comes to detecting and preventing colorectal cancer, especially for those with a family history of colon cancer or a history of inflammatory bowel disease. But while it’s the best preventive method, many seniors hesitate having a colonoscopy or even a flexible sigmoidoscopy — often fearing the test preparations or the invasiveness of the procedures.
The good news is that there are three non-invasive, colon cancer screening tests that may be done in the comfort of home by collecting stool and sending it to a lab.
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT): This test looks for blood in the stool. It can have many false-positives and is not very reliable at catching polyps before they become cancerous.
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): This test detects polyps and cancer better than the FOBT and is easier to complete.
- Stool DNA test: In 2015, the FDA approved Cologuard, which can detect blood in the stool as well as different DNA mutations that are associated with colon cancer. This test can identify the majority of colon cancers; however, it too may only pick up a polyp once it is larger or in a more advanced stage.
All these alternatives are fully covered by Medicare. The FOBT and FIT tests are recommended annually, while Cologuard is recommended every three years. With any of these alternative methods, if the test is positive, a colonoscopy will be needed to investigate further.
Although a colonoscopy is the best way to prevent and detect colon polyps and cancers, getting screened is what matters most when younger than 75. Screening beyond age 75 is a more complex assessment of risks and benefits, and should be discussed with a doctor.
Calyx Health is dedicated to comprehensive senior care, especially prevention, disease management and wellness. Drop by if you’re interested in discussing these options as part of a free, 60-minute, Medicare annual wellness visit.