Each year, March is observed as “National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month” in the United States. Sponsored by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA), the campaign is an exclusive platform to increase awareness about colorectal cancer (CRC), emphasize the need for a cure, and spur advocacy on behalf of those suffering with the emotional, financial and physical burden of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is any cancer that affects the colon and the rectum. Also known as bowel/colon/rectal cancer, most cases of CRC begins as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called “adenomatous polyps” (abnormal growths) inside the inner lining of the colon or rectum. In due course, some of these polyps can become cancerous, if not removed. The chance of a polyp changing into cancer depends on its specific type. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, physicians recommend regular screening tests – as these tests help prevent colon cancer by identifying the growth of polyps and removing them before they turn into malignant cancer. Treatment options for CRC include – chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Oncologists or other specialists treating this condition can rely on medical billing companies to meet their claim submission tasks and thus receive correct reimbursement on time.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the United States, with reports suggesting that over 100,000 new cases are reported each year and over one million cases in total. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 1 in 21 men and 1 in 23 women in the United States will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. The potential risk factors associated with this disease include family history or genetic factors, age, lifestyle related factors such as smoking, diet, physical inactivity, obesity or alcohol use.

In most cases, the exact cause of colon cancer is not known. The common signs and symptoms include – unexplained weight loss, rectal bleeding or blood in the stools, persistent abdominal discomfort, change in bowel habits, cramping or stomach discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea and a feeling of weakness or fatigue. However, the type and intensity of symptoms can vary from person to person.

Most cases of colon cancer often are treatable. However, the condition goes undetected due to lack of regular screening. Regular and standard screening tests help to detect the condition in its earliest stages and provide the greatest chance of cure. A wide range of screening tests like – colonoscopy, CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy), sigmoidoscopy, fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and stool DNA test will help detect the disease early. Medicare offers coverage for colorectal cancer screening using multitarget sDNA test, to all patients who come in the age group of 50-85 years, who are asymptomatic, and at an average risk of developing CRC.

Oncologists offering specialized treatment to CRC patients will be reimbursed for their services. The diagnosis, screening tests and other procedures must be carefully documented using appropriate medical codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by reputable providers can assist physicians in using the right ICD-10 codes for their medical billing process.

ICD – 10 codes for Colorectal Cancer

  • C18 – Malignant neoplasm of colon
    • C18.0 – Malignant neoplasm of cecum
    • C18.1 – Malignant neoplasm of appendix
    • C18.2 – Malignant neoplasm of ascending colon
    • C18.3 – Malignant neoplasm of hepatic flexure
    • C18.4 – Malignant neoplasm of transverse colon
    • C18.5 – Malignant neoplasm of splenic flexure
    • C18.6 – Malignant neoplasm of descending colon
    • C18.7 – Malignant neoplasm of sigmoid colon
    • C18.8 – Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of colon
    • C18.9 – Malignant neoplasm of colon, unspecified
  • C20 – Malignant neoplasm of rectum

The 2019 theme for this campaign is – “Don’t Assume”. The theme set by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA) aims to challenge assumptions and misconceptions about colorectal cancer by dispelling myths, raising awareness, and connecting people across the country with information and support.

March was officially designated as “National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month” in the year 2000 (by the then President Clinton) with an objective to encourage Americans to spread more awareness about colon cancer. Since 2000, the event has become a major platform for the colon cancer community consisting of patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates to generate awareness about the condition by holding fundraising and educational events, and by talking to friends and family about early and regular screening.

Take active part in the “Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month” campaign to be held in March. Make open efforts to spread awareness about colon cancer and the importance of early detection and screening.