Preventive medical care: Cancer screenings
Ben Franklin said it best: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Preventive health care services – check ups, screenings, vaccinations and counseling – can help you lead a healthier life by encouraging better lifestyle choices, preventing illness and diseases, and allowing for early detection that promotes better treatment options and outcomes.
CDC statistics show that the leading causes of death in the U.S. are chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke – most of which are preventable. The CDC also states that “if everyone in the U.S. received recommended clinical preventive care,” more than 100,000 lives could be saved annually.
Most insurance plans – including TRICARE and private insurers – now offer many preventive healthcare services free of charge, without copays or deductibles. Specific services and frequency screenings are based on sex, age, level of wellness and other risk factors. Gaining a better understanding of what screenings and services are available to you can lead to educated conversations with your primary car manager (PCM) or physician about preventive care you or your family need to stay healthy.
The following provides an overview of the TRICARE Preventive Services Plan, found at www.tricare-overseas.com. For those with a different insurance, contact your human resources or insurance customer service representative for service coverage guidelines.
• Colonoscopy: One screening every 10 years starting at age 50, or for these individuals with increased risk:
- Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer syndrome
- Familial risk of sporadic colorectal cancer
• Fecal occult blood testing: Annual testing starting at age 50.
• Mammograms: Annual exam for those over age 39, age 30 for women who have a 15 percent or greater lifetime risk of breast cancer
• Proctosigmoidoscopy or sigmoidoscopy: Once every three to five years beginning at age 50.
• Prostate cancer: Perform a digital rectal exam and prostate-specific antigen screening annually for high-risk men ages 40-49, and all men over age 50.
• Routine Pap smears: Annually for women stating at age 18 (younger if sexually active), or less often at patient and provider discretion (though not less than every three years).
• Skin cancer: Exams are covered at any age for a beneficiary who is at high risk due to family history or increased sun exposure.
Additional information can be found on the TRICARE Overseas Program in the Clinical Preventive Services Brief for Adults.