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Colorectal Cancer Screenings

To schedule your colorectal cancer screening:
  • Call your primary care provider (PCP) or endocrinologist to schedule.
  • Find a PCP or endocrinologist using our provider search tool.
  • Get help from a Health Care Concierge by chatting on MyHealth OnLine or calling the number on your member ID card. Health Care Concierges are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Important notices:

  • UPMC Health Plan members with employee-sponsored insurance plans: Getting preventive screenings may help you earn toward your wellness incentive! Check your plan benefits today to check eligibility.
  • UPMC for You members may qualify for transportation assistance for preventive screenings. For more details, visit the Medical Assistance Transportation Program website.
Colorectal cancer usually begins as a polyp, an abnormal growth in the tissue or lining of the colon (large intestine) or rectum (the bottom part of the colon). This type of cancer can be prevented if caught early with regular testing. Polyps can be removed before they become cancerous.

Your doctor can discuss several different screening options with you. Each screening has advantages and disadvantages; however, no one screening is better than another. With your doctor’s advice, choose the best kind of screening for you.

Colorectal Cancer FAQ

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How many people get colorectal cancer?

About 141,000 are diagnosed each year.

How does colorectal cancer start?

Colorectal cancer typically begins as a polyp. Polyps are not always cancer and are common in people older than age 45.

Screening FAQ

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What types of colorectal cancer screenings are there?

Stool test, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy.

What does each type of screening involve?

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends adults receive one of the following screening tests between ages 45-75.
  • FIT (fecal immunochemical test), FIT-DNA, or gFOBT (guaic-based fecal occult blood test): You do not need sedation to have this test. You simply collect a stool sample (usually at home) and have it tested for the presence of blood. Small amounts of blood may not be visible. If the test finds blood, a colonoscopy may be necessary.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: You will most likely not be sedated before a sigmoidoscopy. This screening examines the rectum and sigmoid section of the colon. These are lower parts of the colon. Any polyps found are removed for analysis. If the test finds anything abnormal, a colonoscopy may be necessary to check for growths in the upper colon.
  • Colonoscopy: Before a colonoscopy, you will be sedated. This screening examines the rectum and entire colon. If any polyps are found, they are removed for analysis.

How often do I need to get a colorectal cancer screening?

  • FIT and gFOBT stool tests: Yearly
  • FIT-DNA stool test: Every 3 years
  • Sigmoidoscopy: Every 5 years (including a possible yearly stool test) if no prior personal or family history
  • Colonoscopy: Every 10 years if no personal or family history of colorectal cancer

How much does a colorectal cancer screening cost?

All preventive screenings cost nothing for UPMC Health Plan and UPMC for You members.

How to prepare for a screening

First, discuss with your doctor which type of screening is right for you. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on preparing for the screening you choose. You may worry about what the test may find. Remember: Even if the test finds an abnormality, it may not be cancer. Also, finding problems early may save your life. Any way you think about it, you made the right choice by having the screening. Discuss any concerns with your doctor.