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January 25, 2018

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Medical Coding News Archives

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Promotes Screening Examinations

April 5, 2012:

Beth Ford, RHIT, CCS, Clinical/Technical Editor

Physician practices might have noticed an uptick in visits for colorectal cancer screenings in March, which is National Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Awareness Month.

CRC is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Every year, more than 140,000 men and women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States, with a mortality rate of greater than 50,000 per year. Early screening and detection have resulted in a marked decline in CRC rates within the past decade, however, an increased incidence of CRC diagnosis in patients under the age of 50 has highlighted the need for early screening and detection to ensure optimal outcomes for patients of all ages.

The American Cancer Society recommends screening colonoscopies for patients younger than 50 who are at a high risk for the disease. This population includes patients under age 50 with a family history of CRC or other cancer, and patients who present with symptoms such as rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, and vague or persistent abdominal pain, and patients who have had colon polyps identified on previous exams.

For patients older than 50, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends:

  • Colonoscopy (every 10 years)
  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), also known as a stool test (every year)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy (every five years) with high-sensitivity FOBT (every three years).

Health care professionals and their practices can take advantage of several resources aimed at encouraging preventive colorectal cancer screening and clarifying coding and billing issues. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides the following guidance:

To learn more about colorectal cancer, visit the following websites:


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