Over 50? Stop stalling and get that colonoscopy

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Messages 81 - 100 of total 152 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Jul 30, 2010 - 12:21pm PT
Rick,

you'll be glad to know I'm getting mine done in three weeks......WHEE! I can hardly wait.
Looking forward to this with about as much anticipation as doing the Bacher-Yerian.
Need to do it but want it to be over with..............

JACK
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Jul 30, 2010 - 03:23pm PT
delendaest;

Don't forget mammograms for the Ladies and PSA tests for the Laddies. Definitely need a PSA every year over 50. In addition to the traditional "finger wave."
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jul 30, 2010 - 08:57pm PT
OK! Two years ago" I went shopping for best local price on a colonoscopy.

I wrote this article for a local newpaper.

Shopping Endoscopy/Gastroenterology Clinics.

As many people discover, one of the joys of aging is having your physician strongly recommend really expensive medical tests.

This last summer I finally gave up and decided to submit to a Colonoscopy. This simple, but expensive, outpatient procedure explores your colon looking for signs of colon cancer.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, accounting for about 20 percent of all cancer deaths. This year alone, more than 131,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer, and 56,000 will die from it.

Colon cancer is also one of the most curable types of cancer, if it is diagnosed early. When detected at its earliest stages, chances for a cure are as high as 90 percent. There are several excellent screening and diagnostic methods to detect colon cancer early.

The key to successful colon cancer treatment is finding the cancer at an early stage, before it has spread to surrounding tissues and organs. Most colon cancers develop from polyps, small growths found inside the intestine. Keep in mind, though, that most polyps are not cancerous.

The goal of screening for colon cancer is twofold: to detect early-stage cancerous tumors; and to detect and remove benign polyps, which may develop into colon cancer.

Colonoscopy: This procedure offers the best chance to detect and prevent colon cancer, according to leading research studies. A Colonoscopy is similar to a flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the instrument is longer because your doctor will be viewing your entire colon. You will be given a mild sedative to make you comfortable. Attachments on the end of the tube enable your doctor to remove a small tissue sample if one is needed for a biopsy.

I had been referred to the only Endoscopy clinic in Twin Falls,ID that performs Colonoscopies. Since I am self-employed and pay for my own insurance, which is a high deductible PPO (preferred provider organization) Blue Cross policy, I always like to know how much a medical procedure is going to cost me.

When I showed up for my pre-procedure screening in Twin Falls, I was immediately told that my Blue Cross PPO insurance would not lower the cost of my Colonoscopy. I knew with my high-deductible policy, I would have to out-of-pocket the whole price for the procedure. I then asked how much my Colonoscopy would cost and was informed that I could not have that information until after my pre-procedure exam.

So, I had the exam, which was only a few minutes long and mainly covered my medical history (cost $143.00). I then got to talk to the money person at the clinic about the cost of my Colonoscopy. It was explained that cost was very difficult to quote, since it would depend entirely on what the physician found during the Colonoscopy. When I persisted in asking for a quote, I was told that price for the basic Colonoscopy would be $2,200.00.

After I recovered from the shock, I canceled the appointment for the Colonoscopy and called my insurance company, Blue Cross. I asked them what they reimbursed physicians for a Colonoscopy procedure and was told that information was confidential. All they could do was give me a list of physicians in Idaho that did charge their “PPO-Preferred Provider Organization” rates.

I did some internet research and discovered others have found that it can be rather difficult to get quotes for medical procedures from physician offices.

However one columnist for the Colorado Springs Business Journal had persisted and found a Endoscopy center that allowed him to pay about $1,000.00 cash up-front for a Colonoscopy. On-line articles about Colonoscopy costs quoted figures as low as $500.00 and as high as $1,500.00.

Somewhat encouraged, I started calling Boise Endoscopy centers. My best experience was with Idaho Endoscopy Center. They would charge Blue Cross PPO prices (whatever those were?). Better yet their financial manager actually called back and negotiated with me. I would have to pay $1,000.00 cash in advance, and would be billed any additional charges.

The pre-appointment screening could be done over the phone, thus saving an extra trip to Boise. My physician was contacted and gave me a referral.

Total time in the clinic was about two hours. I was given a mild sedative and found the procedure painless. The clinic did insist I have another adult along to drive me home. My colon was clean as a whistle, so the cost for the procedure was the minimum amount. If the physician has to remove polyps the price can increase substantially.

Total cost after Blue Cross PPO adjustments was $1,359.14.

I’m glad I went shopping.

By the way: if you have read this far! The U.S. medical and insurance system is "a real piece of work."
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Jul 30, 2010 - 11:13pm PT
To add my voice to this one...I was in roughly the same boat as Rick A. Maybe a little further along, Stage II for for me. Had surgery and 5 months of preventative chemo. That was last year. I was 40. So far so good. Pretty high likelihood I'm over and done with it.

Wouldn't have caught it except for some bad diarrhea that wouldn't go away. After several rounds of various antibiotics didn't do anything, I was convinced to get a colonoscopy. Malignancy found, 5 days later I was in surgery getting part of me cut out.

So even for those of you under 50, if you've got a family history, or weird bowel stuff going on, get it done. My insurer, United Health, now covers them as preventative medicine and pays in full with no deductible or copay.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 30, 2010 - 11:48pm PT
There was a note about this in the NYT the other day, about the percentage of Americans who get screening colonoscopies, and who.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/health/research/27screening.html?scp=1&sq=colorectal&st=cse

Fritz' experience was interesting. In BC, the way it works right now is that if you are in a higher-risk group, you get sent for a screening colonscopy every ten years. Higher-risk = heredity, personal medical history, etc. If you're in the 'average' group, then if you want one, you have to pay for it yourself. I had one a few years ago, and it cost about $1,000. My MD said it was a good idea, said I wasn't in a higher-risk group, and off I went. It's not a 'real' surgical procedure, so was at the doctor's office/clinic, as with many relatively minor things.

The debate here now is whether MSP (our single-payer system) should cover screening colonoscopies for everyone every ten years from age 50. The economic studies indicate it would be an effective investment, so it seems likely it will happen.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 30, 2010 - 11:52pm PT
Nice contribution Fritz

I think it's criminal that the medical establishment won't quote prices, especially when prices are high. You can bet they buy nothing for themselves without knowing the price in advance.

And with medical expenses being the prime driver of a majority of bankruptcies, reform is badly needed.

Getting up the backside is bad enough without getting up the backside when the bill comes

Peace

Karl
delendaest

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jul 31, 2010 - 08:23am PT
the utility of PSA testing is very much debatable and a reflection of the fact that the vast majority of prostate cancers are very slowly growing and unlikely to cause death. in the largest trials to date its been shown that a huge number of patients need to be treated (with resulting incontinence, impotence, etc) in order to extend the life of one person.

from the new england journal of medicine, summarizing the largest trial to date: "This means that 1410 men would need to be screened and 48 additional cases of prostate cancer would need to be treated to prevent one death from prostate cancer....PSA-based screening reduced the rate of death from prostate cancer by 20% but was associated with a high risk of overdiagnosis."

the data on mammograms is also mixed, with recommendations moving back the recommended age to start screening. this is also a reflection of the fact that mammograms were picking up too many benign lesions resulting in unnecessary surgeries.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 31, 2010 - 08:31am PT
People who want a colonoscopy and vacation package might consider Chile. Medical care in Santiago is the best in Latin America. Procedures in Chile cost a fraction of what they are in the US. The savings in a colonoscopy would more than cover your plane costs to this beautiful country.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Jul 31, 2010 - 08:36am PT
The major advantage of the PSA testing is it is "non-invasive" and is usually accompanied by the classic "finger-up-the-bum" exam when the physician reviews the results with you. It's also a pretty inexpensive (as medical testing goes) procedure.

The mammogram is of more questionable utility, and depends on the trained eye of the radiologist.
Dr.Sprock

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Jul 31, 2010 - 10:06am PT
it was embare ass ing seeing one of my butt plugs show up on the video monitor,

jstan

climber
Jul 31, 2010 - 10:52am PT
"the utility of PSA testing is very much debatable and a reflection of the fact that the vast majority of prostate cancers are very slowly growing and unlikely to cause death. "

The debate over the statistics has been going on for some time and the major players in that debate all have vested interests. I have not seen the problem as viewed by the afflicted as widely published. Friends and relatives of mine have died of this and it is not a pleasant way to go.

1. The PSA is a simple blood test costing very little. I think urologists believe the test's precision is better than it really is but if you see consistent increases in the data the next step is indicated.

2. A biopsy is an office procedure. If successful a Gleason score can be determined. At that point the decision is in the hands of the person most directly affected.

A good place to start once you have a Gleason score:
http://www.phoenix5.org/articles/Fortune96Grove.html

Many major advances have been made since Andy's article in 1996. The Johns Hopkins procedure avoiding nerve loss during surgery is now generally available. The majority of the people I know have been electing radiation treatment.
Gene

Social climber
Aug 4, 2010 - 02:04pm PT
If my polyp biopsy results come back clean, I'll feel I have dodged a bullet that I caused by waiting so long to get the colonoscopy done.

Just got the call. Biopsy was clean. Yaahoo!

Now go out and get it done my friends.

g
Gary

climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Aug 4, 2010 - 02:12pm PT
I had one done last year. As my girlfriend has always suspected, the pictures prove I'm the perfect as#@&%e.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2012 - 07:47am PT
Just had a checkup (my third colonoscopy) four years after my surgery. In the three years since my last one, I had grown more pre-cancerous polyps. However, they were found and removed early enough so that they should have zero impact on my health going forward. Will be doing this routine every three years from now on.

This underscores the importance of early detection. Had I waited another few years before getting the first colonoscopy it could have been dire, indeed.

So this is a gentle, but urgent, reminder to my friends "d'un certain age" still putting it off.

Just get it done; it might be one of the best things you ever do for yourself and your family.

Rick
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 17, 2012 - 08:00am PT

Good to hear that news, Rick.
I'm getting my second one sometime this year. It's not the
procedure that's bad, it's the prep. Ugh!
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
Mar 17, 2012 - 08:17am PT
edit-


Glad to hear everything is going well for you Rick A.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2012 - 08:41am PT
Wade-Sorry to hear that happened.

Here is a link with some information about applicable law and options.

http://healthinsurance.about.com/od/healthinsurancebasics/a/preexisting_conditions_overview.htm
Ian Gill

Big Wall climber
Redding, CA
Mar 17, 2012 - 09:40am PT
Glad to hear you're doing well Rick.

Your message is SO important! I had my colonoscopy when I was 47, due to a steadily increasing amount of blood emanating from my southern region (as polite a way as I can put it)

Yeah - a tumor the size of a golf ball. Nothing will stop you dead in your tracks like a cell phone call at work from your doctor saying "Yes, you have cancer, and it appears to be somewhat advanced".

Turned out it had spread to some lymph nodes as well. 2 major abdominal surgeries later and long story short - I just passed my 5 year remission mark 3 months ago - I'm lucky to be here and it has changed my perspective on life (I've lost 3 other immediate family members to cancer in the last 6 years).

A colonoscopy is no big deal, folks - you don't even feel it. So my older brother (it's just him and me left) went and got his done, and sure enough, had a few pre-cancerous polyps removed. His health insurance was not affected though.

Godspeed to ya, Rick, you're gonna be alright! Attitude is everything!
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Mar 17, 2012 - 10:19am PT
Bump for a vital message...
and best wishes to all of you who got scary news, but got it early.

One of my best friends kept putting his "after 50" colonoscopy off, and ignored symptoms until it was impossible to do so, and got the diagnosis of metastatic stage 4. He was dead within the year. We still miss him.
jstan

climber
Mar 17, 2012 - 10:40am PT
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/938315/RIP-Curt-Johnson-aka-Dirtineye
Credit: Jennie

Read the thread. You don't want this.

It is hell on wheels.
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