A screening colonoscopy, for testing for the presence of colorectal cancer or polyps, is a service performed at Bladen County Hospital on a person who has no symptoms of colon cancer. In addition, individuals with symptoms like bloody stools, dark tar-like stools or changes in stool size and shape should have a diagnostic colonoscopy.
According to statistics from the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry’s Cancer Profiles, cancer was the leading cause of death in North Carolina in 2015. In 2014, 202 cancer cases were reported in Bladen County residents. In 2015, a total of 80 Bladen County residents died from some form of cancer. Of these deaths, 11 percent were caused by colon or rectal cancer.
Some cancers like colon cancer, if detected early, are curable. The American Cancer Society recommends that all individuals at the age of 50 begin screening tests for colon and rectal cancer. There are several types of screening tests for colon cancer. However, the screening colonoscopy is the gold standard. Typically, the screening colonoscopy is performed every 10 years unless there are polyps or other abnormalities detected during the procedure. The doctor performing the screening test may recommend frequent or additional types of testing. Diagnostic testing should be done in all individuals with any signs or symptoms of colon cancer.
Often, in rural communities, citizens neglect screening and diagnostic tests because of the need to travel outside of the local area. Both types of tests are performed daily at Bladen County Hospital. Bladen County residents can have their testing done in the community by highly skilled professional surgeons. The process of scheduling a screening exam is simple.
If you are over the age of 50, talk with your primary care provider about a referral to Bladen Surgical Services for an appointment to schedule a screening colonoscopy. If an individual has any signs or symptoms of colon or rectal cancer, they should contact their primary care provider to discuss the symptoms and to receive a referral for a diagnostic colonoscopy. At the surgical appointment, Dr. Barry Williamson and Dr. William Beutel, will discuss the procedure and how to prepare and will schedule a procedure date. No overnight stay is required as this is considered an outpatient procedure.
Most insurance companies, to include Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare, Blue Cross, Cigna, Aetna, etc. cover the cost of a screening or diagnostic procedure. Individuals should check with their insurance company to determine if there is a need to meet a deductible or if there is a co-payment.
Dr. Roxie Wells is president of Hoke Healthcare/Bladen Healthcare within the Cape Fear Valley Health System.