| Thu, Jun 06, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

Be Cancer Aware With Medicare

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

free colon cancer screeningMany people have been touched by cancer in some way. Maybe someone you know has cancer, survived cancer or died from cancer. Perhaps you are a survivor yourself.

Medicine and society have made great strides in the fight against cancer. The American Cancer Society says that two out of every three people diagnosed with cancer today will survive at least five years. That’s good news.

The nation celebrates National Cancer Survivor’s Day each year. In 2013, it’s on Sunday, June 2. The American Association of Cancer Research reports that, as of January 2012, there were nearly 14 million cancer survivors in the United States. By 2022, the association says the number of survivors is expected to reach 18 million.

Medicare Covers Cancer Screening

The National Cancer Institute credits early detection and treatment advances for improvements in cancer survivorship. Catching cancer early is one way to help treatment be most effective.

Checking for cancer before symptoms are present is called “screening.” Not all types of cancer have screening tests. Also, some cancer screenings are recommended only for individuals with specific genetic risks.

Cancer screening tests include the following:

  • Physical exam and history: The doctor checks general signs of health and looks for signs of disease, such as a lump. The doctor also notes health habits and past illnesses and treatments.
  • Laboratory tests: Samples of tissue, blood, urine or other body substances are taken and examined for abnormalities.
  • Imaging procedures: An X-ray or other procedure makes pictures of areas inside the body. Doctors check the pictures for changes or anything unusual.
  • Genetic tests: These tests look for certain gene changes that are linked to some types of cancer.

Medicare covers preventive screenings for:

  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Coverage for a screening may require that you meet certain requirements, such as a certain length of time since your last screening. It’s important to talk to your doctor about which cancer screenings you may need and how often. You can also get information about covered screenings at Medicare.gov.

Healthy Choices Help Prevent Cancer

Scientists are gaining knowledge about cancer prevention as well as treatment. More than half of all deaths caused by cancer could be prevented, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Cancer prevention starts with healthy lifestyle choices. And the same healthy choices that can help prevent cancer can help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions. To help prevent cancer, the ACS suggests that you:

  • Stop smoking or don’t start
  • Keep your weight in a healthy range
  • Stay physically active
  • Eat a healthful diet

Original Medicare or your Medicare Advantage plan may cover programs or provide other benefits that may help you live a healthy lifestyle. Call Medicare or your specific plan for more information.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.


American Cancer Society: Learn more about cancer and cancer prevention.

Facing Forward: Get information and tips for life after cancer treatment from the National Cancer Institute.

Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.


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