Cancer Society: ‘We’re going to be a pain in the butt about colonoscopies’

Colorectal cancer is preventable if it’s caught early – that’s why getting a routine colonoscopy is so important for every­one starting at age 50.

Skipping recommended screenings could mean a patient receives a later-stage colorectal cancer diagnosis that can be more expensive to treat and harder to survive.

Currently, Medicare fully pays for routine colonoscopies for the purpose of screening. But if a polyp is found and removed during the procedure, the colonoscopy is recatego­rized as a diagnostic exam, and the patient must pay a share of the cost.

This loophole, which applies only to Medicare beneficia­ries, can leave a patient with a bill that could be as much as $500 out of pocket. This potential cost is a huge barrier for some patients, who then put off their screening, sometimes with dire consequences.

In New Hampshire, an estimated 540 residents will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, and 200 will die from the disease. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Granite Staters need you to cosponsor the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act to ensure seniors have the same access to col­orectal cancer screening as others. Finding and removing a polyp before it turns into a cancer is the primary reason for doing a screening colonoscopy and there should not be a sur­prise cost for preventing a cancer.

Dr. Carolyn Claussen

Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Bedford