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Colorectal cancer screenings

Beginning at the age of 50 (when 90% of new colorectal cancer cases occur), regular screening tests can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.

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Colorectal cancer usually develops from precancerous, abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find these abnormal growths so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.

TRICARE covers the following to screen for colorectal cancer:

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) once every 12 months (includes: guaiac (gFOBT) and Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT))
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy within the last 60 months
  • CT colonography within the last 60 months
  • FIT-DNA test within the last 36 months
  • Colonoscopy within the last 120 months
Disclaimer: This list of covered services is not all-inclusive.

A complete list of screening services covered by risk category

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TRICARE covers colonoscopy exams as follows:

For individuals with hereditary non-polyposis colon rectal cancer syndrome, exams are available every two years beginning at age 25 (or five years younger than the earliest age of diagnosis of colorectal cancer, whichever is earlier), and then annually after age 40.

For individuals who have first-degree relative diagnosed with sporadic colon rectal cancer or adenomas before the age of 60 or multiple first-degree relatives with colon rectal cancer or adenomas, exams are available every three to five years beginning 10 years earlier than the youngest affected relative.

Computed Tomographic Colonography (CTC) or (Virtual Colonoscopy) is only covered when an optical colonoscopy is medically contraindicated or can't be completed due to a known colonic lesion, structural abnormality, or other technical difficulty is encountered that prevents adequate visualization of the entire colon. CTC is NOT covered as a colorectal cancer screening for any other indication or reason.

Are you at risk?

More than 90% of colorectal cancer occurs in people who are 50 years old or older. Other risk factors include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
  • Lack of regular physical activity
  • Diet low in fruit and vegetables
  • Low-fiber and high-fat diet
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco Use

What are the signs and symptoms?

Signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer 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