Regular colorectal cancer screenings can save lives

American Forces Press Service

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Regular colorectal cancer screening saves lives.

Colorectal cancer screenings may be an uncomfortable subject for some people to discuss, but their importance cannot be underplayed.

With one in 19 Americans being diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime, the good news for TRICARE beneficiaries is that colorectal screenings are available to them at no cost.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate at least 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could be avoided with regular screening. When colorectal cancer is caught and diagnosed early, treatment is more effective.

Since early-stage colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, today’s screening technology is a powerful tool. Screenings can find abnormal growths called polyps that can be removed before becoming harmful.

For TRICARE Prime and Standard beneficiaries, there are no cost shares or co-pays for many preventive care services, including colorectal cancer screenings. For Medicare-eligible beneficiaries covered by TRICARE For Life, Medicare covers colorectal cancer screening tests and TRICARE generally pays the remainder of any costs not paid under Medicare.

There are many types of screening tests available to find colon polyps or colorectal cancer. Beneficiaries 50 years and older should have annual fecal occult blood testing, a proctosigmoidoscopy or sigmoidoscopy every three to five years, or a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Beneficiaries as young as 25 years old with a higher risk of colorectal cancer — for example, those with a close relative who had the disease — should talk to their doctor about earlier screenings.

Learn more about colorectal cancer screening at the CDC’s Screen for Life campaign at For more information about TRICARE’s preventive services go to